I live in Delaware. Sounds AMAZING, I know. But one of the things that’s been true, at least as long as I’ve been living here, is that the weather is generally more mild than the surrounding areas, such as Philadelphia and New Jersey. It’s not that significant most of the time, but given the difference of a few degrees, miles inland, or whatever forces may be at work, this time around, it meant about 10 inches of snow LESS than what most everyone else got. For that, I will say, we are lucky.
When you don’t get a lot of snow, the promise of a big storm is news to everyone. We had about a week’s Winter Storm warning that the weather was going to be bad, and everyone around me buzzed with a mixture of fear, excitement and anticipation. The timeliness of the Winter Storm Jonas’ arrival over the weekend meant that the confusion over schools opening or closing was moot. Parents prepared for long weekends indoors and my adult friends decided whose house they were going to wait the storm out at. In either case, alcohol was procured, and fridges stocked. We tried to set up ambitious goals for ourselves, but in the end, lounged about like hibernating bears.
We got more snow than we knew how to handle. If you grow up further inland, you come to understand the nature of passable versus impassable roads, but these folks don’t have that kind of barometer. Pretty much every storm’s snow we’ve ever gotten has been driveable, eventually. But this storm dropped too much at once, and the drifting got heavy with the winds. The end of our street caught most of it, but the slope was deceiving to the unsuspecting driver. At least two cars got stuck in the depths in front of our house. Each car didn’t realize the snow was that high, and rammed enough under their vehicle to displace with wheels. Spinning tires only removed the remaining floor as the car just perched on its happy snowbank.
My husband helped out our neighbor during the storm on Saturday. We’d never met them, but as he tried to back out of his spot, he couldn’t get through the dense snow and stuck himself in front of our house. My husband must have been out there for an hour as my son and I watched from the window. I marveled at what would possess someone to drive during the level 2 driving restriction (only medical, police, healthcare and emergency folks are allowed to drive). As it turns out, the guy worked for the state mental health department and was trying to get medication to a patient in need. Unfortunately, his car wouldn’t be able to make it off our street, so he had to get another ride. But it was an opportunity for us to meet our new neighbors, who seem like incredibly nice people.
But each time someone got stuck, either my husband or I went out to help. Each time, we didn’t have to help but decided it was important that we do so. On Sunday morning, when I was out shoveling, when an SUV thought our dead-end street was a thoroughfare. What he also didn’t realize was he was trying to follow the tracks of my neighbor’s pickup, and their car wasn’t going to cut it. I offered my help to push and dig out the car. The car would get stuck three more times before it made it off the street but we hung in there and got it done. The guys I helped, by the way, were heading to help people dig out who couldn’t. The irony of getting stuck on their way to do this was not lost on them.
When the storm was over, after I sent my new friends on their way, I was essentially shoveling alone. The silence in the morning as the sun worked its way over the tree line to warm me, I had set a pretty good rhythm. There’s something so pleasant to the silence in the air after a winter storm. I was just so glad to be outside. It would be about two hours before I’d see another person, this one a man walking the biggest rottweiler I’ve ever seen, passing through the neighborhood. We exchanged pleasantries and he moved on. Soon the three women who lived across the street came out to dig all their vehicles out, lively and boisterous, giggling and laughing. Then, one by one, all the neighbors came out of their homes with shovels and sleds. It was like Christmas morning in Whoville, without all the hand-holding and singing. All of us, united in effort.
Soon, one of our neighbors came out with his snow blower and began working at the huge drifts at the end of the street. He reasoned we’d probably not see a plow, and didn’t want other cars to get stuck. He said he didn’t mind, after seeing us get out and help the other cars during the storm. By then, I’d done most of our walk, but the drift against my husband’s car, which was parked by the street was nearly as tall as the car itself.
My neighbor did the entire drift, one neighbor’s driveway, and each other cars parked on the street. He did walkways for others, stopping at least twice to refuel. The plow would come, in spite of our suspicions otherwise, but with the work we’d done, they managed not to plow anyone in so late in the day. Instead, they put a big drift blocking the spot where cars try to cut through the trees (and common area), so it’s a win all around.
A few days ago, my neighbor put her house on the market alone with one other house up the street. It’s always sad to see someone go, especially because we take having good neighbors very seriously. However, after the storm, we bounded together like neighbors should, everyone helping everyone. No questions asked. I’m glad to see that the street remains strong, and that when we really need to count on each other, we can.