Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Post-snowstorm walkabout on icy terrain

On Saturday Santa Claus will sail through to Rockport Harbor.
Right now, though, all things are quiet, chilly and just waking up.

It was 28 degrees and icy when I pulled my cleats over my boots this morning at 6:45 in preparation for a morning walkabout. I was curious after the big storm, drawn by a beautiful sunrise happening in the moment, in need of exercise and lacking judgment. I could see that for ice-o-phobes like me, walking was going to be challenging. That's a major draw, to be honest. The challenge calls and the hazards, mute by comparison, materialize in full voice, usually after the point of no return and only after it's too late.

I'm not sure how much snow we had yesterday — maybe 5 inches tossed around by a whole lot of wind. It felt like my house was stuck in a blender through much of the 2-day storm. It's always amazing to me when I step outside afterward and see that everything is essentially intact. Once, and it's hard to forget this, half my roof blew off in a nor'easter. I was in New York City at the time and my tenant was kind enough to collect the shingles from the street.

It feels double-cold when even the trees look cold.

As I walked this morning, I bounced back and forth between the stark, spreading beauty of the morning and the treacherous footing — one second euphoric and the next near tears on slick ice with seemingly no way out. My cleats popped off repeatedly, perhaps a fail due to rubber that stiffened in the cold. Every so often I'd glance behind me to see one of my cleats splayed on an icy mound, defeated by the elements. Pulling on cleats, a job best accomplished sans gloves, on one foot while balanced on ice must be something to see from afar. I was terror-sweating, too busy to notice anything other than my mounting predicaments.

I see that some homeowners feel no need to get outside and shovel the walkways that abut their properties. This failure to shovel is most surprising around the school where the sidewalks are still filled with snow. And in those areas where the town seems to have done some snow removal, the walking is extremely slippery and uneven. Some sand would help.

There are lots of good arguments for shoveling. Rockport is a walking town and people will get out and walk after a storm if the sidewalks are shoveled and sanded. The cars have been ordered off the streets so walking makes good sense. It's certainly a good practice to walk and great for our environment. Making sure our neighbors and visitors are safe is an act of kindness and respect.

Many creatures have walked here.

Lots of Rockport homes are vacant in winter or occupied by short-term renters or, increasingly, airbnb patrons. Whether a homeowner is in Boca Raton, a nearby town or snuggled in front of the fireplace are not good excuses for failing to shovel. I don't know whether we are obliged, by law, to shovel or whether good manners is the prime motivator. Either way, I wish there was more shoveling going on.

Of course, shoveling is hazardous, too. I know someone whose heart stopped beating while shoveling on a nearby sidewalk. I guess you could say he died. His wife brought him back to us and he had a few more very good years till something else intervened. It's best, after a certain age, to hire someone to shovel if affordable. Here in Rockport we have Facebook pages where we can ask for help with shoveling and other tasks.

Post-sunrise at the tip of Bearskin Neck.

Despite the hazards, the morning walk was gorgeous and any terror-sweats and tears did not hinder my appreciation for this beautiful town and privileged way of life. Thank god for gratitude, which so far makes all things right again.

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