Snowstorm aftermath: Dread of duty morphs into having a blast

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  • Julie Erickson digs her way out on North Main Street in Williamsburg on Thursday morning during the snowstorm. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Peter Waskiewicz and his daughter Jessica, 10, clear off the driveway Thursday at their home in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jon Lewis pushes his daughter Abby, 10, down a hill Thursday afternoon in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Tracy McQuade shovels the sidewalk in front of her home Thursday morning in Haydenville. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Ari Lewis sleds down a hill Thursday afternoon in Hadley. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Graham McQuade, 13, shovels the sidewalk in front of his home Thursday morning in Haydenville during the snowstorm. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Eileen Hirsch and her dog Doolin walk down Massasoit Street, making their way back home after skiing Thursday morning during the snowstorm. STAFF PHOTO/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Will Buford and his daughter, Ramona, 2, of Northampton are followed closely by their 5-year-old dog, Pilar, as they sled on Hospital Hill in Northampton on Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GGUTTING

  • Easthampton High School custodian Bryan Kline works a 32-inch snowblower in a stiff wind to clear the footprint of a vacant outdoor classroom near the school’s main entrance Thursday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Catherine Peters of Northampton descends Hospital Hill in Northampton on Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Will Buford and his daughter, Ramona, 2, of Northampton are followed closely by their dog, Pilar, as they sled on Hospital Hill in Northampton on Thursday afternoon. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

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Published: 12/17/2020 6:03:38 PM

I have no immediate plans to retire. In fact, I have quite a few years left if all goes as planned. However, I do know one thing: I will truly know I am retired when a snowstorm comes and I am still in bed and not out driving around in it.

I have said this all before, but it is something I think about in every snowstorm. I have wrecked my car, driven into many snow banks, cried because my feet and hands are so cold I couldn’t feel them, looked longingly into people’s homes as they sat in warm living rooms — and yes, had a blast as well.

In the last 28 years I have learned some things: Good snow tires are essential, park at the end of my road the night before because sometimes the plows don’t get to our house till later, a shovel in your car is a must, and hand warmers stop the tears.

How different was this first snowstorm during the pandemic? I am not sure I can definitively answer that, but it did feel different. For one thing, I started driving around at about 9 a.m. and it felt like no one was out. I guess people were at home and fewer had to get to jobs. When I stopped to take Julie Erickson’s picture digging her car out in Williamsburg, she told me she’s a teacher in Greenfield. She was so happy because her district had called a snow day even though they are doing remote school.

Most school districts did not cancel, so there were fewer children out playing, sledding, and having snowball fights during those morning hours. Eventually I did see some, and people started digging out. As always, I dreaded heading out to cover the storm at first, but in the end I had a blast capturing our valley doing what we do so well: New Englanders digging out of the snow.


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