Foxboro - Foxboro Public Safety BuildingBy Robert Gillis
Published in The Foxboro Reporter February 2000

With a day off, I finally managed to liberate our Christmas tree from the backyard and get it down to the compost heap this morning. There weren’t many signs of life in town except for passing cars. Elm Street looked like an arctic wasteland. The sun was there, but providing no heat or warmth. Just a dull 40 watt bulb in the sky. I pulled my hat over my ears as they started to burn from the chill.

I hate this time of year.

It’s cold, icy, dark, hard, glacial, bitter and freezing. And as the temperature approaches and exceeds hypothermia-inducing conditions, I realize the bitter, obvious truth — I simply hate this weather. Or as my cousin Angela would say, “It’s yucky.”

In columns of years past I’d gush about how Spring was on its way, and encourage everyone to think happy thoughts about the coming warmth, Red Sox season (don’t get even get me started) and all the glory Is spring, right around the corner. Flowers ready to bloom everywhere.

These days I just can’t do it. It’s just too damn cold. The festive Christmas and Millennium excitement ended around ten minutes after New Years, Christmas trees and decorations were hastily taken down, and Christmas items were immediately marked down 75% as the Valentine’s Day merchandise began to line the shelves.

Outside, two recent bad storms have sidetracked everything, leaving an impermeable barrier of ice everywhere. It’s a challenge to walk ten feet without slipping. Rock salt doesn’t even make a dent.

Winter Wonderland, ha!

And there’s nothing more wonderful than a half-hour commute being extended by two hours, or the sheer thrill of your car “fish-tailing” because you had the audacity to try to change lanes at 5 MPH over a barely plowed road. And let’s not forget the gallons and gallons of windshield-wiper fluid sloshing over the windows, leaving lovely blue streaks over the rest of the car.

So here I am typing away, pouting about this glacial, brutal weather, and realizing that eventually I have to come to some sort of point beyond “I hate winter.”

My point is actually not about this unspeakably cold time of year, as much as it is to thank the people who brave it for the rest of us.

Two weeks ago, after the first big storm, Sue was involved in a car accident. Thank God, she escaped with only bruises and minor injuries — it could have been much worse. The car wasn’t so lucky, but Sue’s recovering and that’s what matters.

Foxboro fire and rescue were on the scene very quickly, and got Sue to Southwood, and called me en route. They didn’t tell me the severity of the accident, but I later learned that’s standard policy.

A few days later, there was the big fire on School Street. Foxboro’s fire fighters once again braved unbelievably cold conditions to get the situation under control swiftly. I drove by the scene that night; the weather was brutal. There was new ice everywhere from the fire hoses. Just being outside on nights like Is challenging; to be fighting a fire with all that cold water in such extreme, brutal cold, for hours, defies description.

In this newspaper and others, we often read of our fire and rescue personnel braving sub-zero conditions to go to the aid of others: Fighting fires, rescuing people who have falling through ice, people in car accidents, and so many other dangerous situations.

The town fire fighters and rescue personnel I know are usually very nonchalant and humble about their line of work, but they are heroes, and I just wanted to say that the Town of Foxboro knows it. With the Worcester tragedy still on everyone’s minds, I’m sure many of our fire fighters occasionally wonder if each call will be “the one:” The one they don’t come back from. But they still go. They still help. They provide assistance and comfort, stop the fires, help stabilize injuries, transport people to the hospital, and so much more.

That really makes a difference for all of us.

It doesn’t make this arctic wasteland any easier to bear, but I wanted to say thanks from all of us for braving the elements and taking such good care of the rest of us. We don’t always say it, but we really appreciate it.

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