A snowy pleasure for some, others not thrilled
February 09, 2011 | 08:05 AMThe following are some snow experiences from last week as told by Lake Geneva Regional News staff members.
Back when my kids were teenagers a 1:30 a.m. phone call meant trouble.
But early Wednesday morning, it was a work call. The call confirmed that papers would not be arriving from our printing plant in Janesville. It was the first time in recent memory when the Lake Geneva Regional News did not arrive at our offices and at stores by Wednesday morning.
It was understandable. Something like 19 inches of snow had fallen over the night. The roads between there and here were impassable.
It was a snow day for everyone.
By the time I got out, mid-afternoon Wednesday, the streets between my apartment on Wells Street and downtown Lake Geneva were plowed, but not the driveways or sidewalks.
Everyone was out, shoveling, plowing, digging out. Most seemed in a jovial mood, making the best of it.
There was a togetherness about it all which only comes when people have a shared burden.
I wasn't the only one with memories of the snow of '11.
I knew the storm was going to be nasty when I arrived at home in Pell Lake Tuesday afternoon. I had to shovel the drifts away from the front of the garage doors before I could enter but was totally shocked on Wednesday morning when I saw that the large bay window not only in the family room but also the large picture window in the living room was completely covered by drifted snow. I have lived in that house since 1966 and never saw the drifts that bad.
I was unable to open the front door because of the drifts, but some industrious kids shoveled their way through. I could only yell at them to go to the garage and I would attempt to open those doors. Luckily they opened and the drifts were only about five feet high there. I was able to hand over several snow shovels to them and they started the snow removal. They finally gave up and I had a plow come in the afternoon and finish the driveway.
I remembered back in the late '60s and late '70s when I had to shovel the roof and a Bobcat was brought in to remove the snow from the front yard. I'll be doing it again this year.
And then there was the groundhog incident.
On Tuesday morning I saw a woodchuck just outside the back of the house. He or she went back into its home which was made under a large birdbath. I had noticed last year a hole in the side of the station and because it is obsolete I wasn't that concerned.
No, the groundhog did not make it for Groundhog Day, but he wasn't far off schedule. Wednesday was sunny, but the groundhog obviously slept in. I figured he'd be in for days, but she saw fresh tracks Thursday, the day after the big snow. There are two large outside lights on the back of my house to light up the area so it may confuse the critter as to the time of day since he comes out when it is still somewhat dark.
The drifts were 5 to 6 feet high all along the old Opera House in Genoa City. As the three of us drove by the lot, there was a collective look of disbelief on all of our faces and then we looked at each other with slight smiles as we knew that the challenge was something cool and new and not the "sameness" of something boring and typical. As we shoveled we started to create our own personal maze in the snow, including the 5-foot wall that was the beginning of the next door neighbor's un-shoveled sidewalk. Most of the traffic that rolled by was plow after plow seemingly mocking our primitive efforts. Pride aside, we kept saying let's flag one down — pay them and have them plow out the mountain of snow that was once my parent's driveway. But we never did. As we soldiered on we came up with a "plan" to compete with all those fancy plows and snow blowers of the world. We would use sympathy as our selling card.
At about 12:15 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 2, I sat near my bedroom window and watched the wind sculpt glacial drifts of snow where sidewalks, stairs and streets used to be. Light posts quivered, their yellow-orange orbs of illumination a paler, flickering haze.
Seven hours later, I watched the blade of a plow truck stick to a mountain of snow off the corner of a parking lot, next to a Dumpster that used to be easily accessible before it became half-buried in white powder. Three vehicles in the lot were also half-buried by snow. The roof was all you could see of one sedan. The peak of another snow mountain was one story high. Two girls giggled and shouted to each other as they climbed the face of it.
The night before, I thought I'd better park in the garage. However, that morning, I saw a snow drift about 4 feet high in front of my garage door and the doors of 15 other people. But I saw a hooded, round man in brown coveralls shoveling through the drift in front of one door. Three hours later, he took care of the others. That's still better than I expected, but I wasn't that emotional about it. I had nowhere to go and I was exactly where I wanted to be. Home.
Early Wednesday morning, somewhere in the Western Caribbean, I awoke to rolling waves and balmy temperatures around 75 degrees. Already sunburned after a day at sea in the Gulf of Mexico, one look at the television news reminded me how happy I was to not be in Lake Geneva. The newscasters were talking about and showing video of snow, across about a third of the United States. They showed people in Chicago, their cars buried along Lakeshore Drive. That's when I knew it was going to be bad at home. Even in Dallas, there was snow and ice.
But, instead of shoveling and sliding around on the roads, we sat alongside the warm ocean in Belize City sipping mango daquiries and pina coladas. During one of the biggest snowstorms in years, I will forever remember I was hundreds of miles away with no cares and no worries.