In the Suburbs: With Old Man Winter, be careful what you wish for
There had been warm winter days when the temperatures made us feel like the balmy winter days in Florida or Arizona. There was a recent, light dusting that whetted our appetites for what winter in Fairfield County might really be. And there were wet and damp days that felt more like October than December or January. But we needed a sign — something to believe in and convince us that we’d beat this El Nino thing with a real live Nor’easter.
I couldn’t believe myself. I was actually praying for a good, old-fashioned New England storm. But I wasn’t alone. The folks in my diner whined about it. The teachers in my school yearned for a snow day. Of course, since I’m a per-diem employee, I didn’t have the same yearning.
Finally, last week, our two favorite weather folks — Lonnie Quinn on Channel 2’s 11 p.m. news in New York and Bill Jacqueman on radio station WICC — gave us the weather promise we’ve been looking for: a major storm predicted for last Saturday. I have zero understanding of all the various models that point toward the real impact of these storms, but when Lonnie kept droning on about gams or rams or whatever the models are called, I knew we were in for something big. States in the cross hairs of this first major storm of the century were Connecticut and New York and those to our south down the Mid-Atlantic coast.
The storm was forecast to start Friday and continue through Saturday. Despite jumbled accumulation numbers all indications were that this storm would make up for the entire winter so far. Of course, there were the usual naysayers who said the storm would barely be flurries. And there were others, including me, who believed that we were going to get walloped.
Our store manager shared the walloped viewpoint and, based on Fairfield University’s decision to close the campus book store Saturday, she decided to close Saturday too. Meanwhile, when I left the store around 9:45 p.m. Friday, it hardly felt like snow was in the air. But I truly wanted to believe in this storm, which had already hit the D.C. area.
Early Saturday, with barely a sign of flurries at 6 a.m., I drove down to Fairfield to meet my good friend Bob for breakfast. When I arrived at Circle Diner, the pavement was dry. Just over an hour later, the outside was looking like a winter wonderland.
Since the snow didn’t seem too bad, I decided to run a few errands. My top priority was a stop at the bank to replace my once-again-hacked chip card. After sliding up Main Street in Bridgeport, I reached a Bank of America branch, which was closed with no notice to customers.
My car was getting absolutely zero traction, but I was lucky enough to make it the short distance to the Westfield Mall in Trumbull. I was intent on buying a particular vacuum cleaner that JC Penney had on clearance. I knew it was still early enough for the underground parking to be clear so I found a spot right in front of Penney’s. I knew the store didn’t open until 10 a.m. so I walked down to Target to browse. To my good fortune, the store had a sale on heavy winter coats with hoods — a perfect purchase since I’d recently given away my warm ski coat.
And Penney’s had the vacuum, so I was on my way in 15 minutes. It was none too soon. By the time I reached my exit on the Merritt Parkway, the ramps were really slick and the side roads weren’t much better. But the true challenge was yet to come — backing into and up my driveway.
I’m convinced that Old Man Winter gave me a real break and with three tries I had navigated the driveway and got the car almost to the garage safely. Of course, the rest is the history of this first nor’easter that left us with more than a foot of snow and ice.
I kept telling myself throughout Saturday, as I trudged through snowdrifts on my deck with the dogs, and Sunday morning as I shoveled my entire driveway to get to work, after my plow guy told me how backed up he was, that we needed something to believe that this was really winter. But sadly we haven’t even hit Groundhog Day yet. Who knows what the next chapters will bring?
Steven Gaynes is a Fairfield writer, and his “In the Suburbs” appears each Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.