WHDH-TV (Channel 7 Boston) snowfall total graphic for 2/15/2015
WHDH-TV (Channel 7 Boston) snowfall total graphic for 2/15/2015

By Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter and Boston City Paper, 2/2015

This past Valentine’s Day weekend, depending on where you live, yet another blizzard dropped anywhere between 8 to 20 inches of snow on the already impossibly high snow banks in your neighborhood.

As I write this, it’s Sunday afternoon, around 230 or so, and I am taking a break from the second round of snow shoveling, snow blowing, snow cursing, to share some observations on the latest blizzard.

Or put another way, SNOW NEWS DAY, random thoughts. In no particular order:

Last time I watched the news this morning, 2014–2015 was officially the third snowiest winter on record in history for the region. Speaking only for myself, I am just fine with third-place. I have no desire for 2014–2015 to make it to first place. Just saying.

It has become a tradition in this area that many large snowstorms are inevitably compared to the great blizzard of 1978 – which I remember very fondly. Anyone who lived through that historic storm generally tells you the same thing – there was a tremendous feeling of community and friendship throughout that amazing week when this state of Massachusetts literally shut down. Neighbors actually went out and met other neighbors, help them shovel the snow, shared milk bread and the occasional adult beverage… I vividly remember walking with my father to the store that week and observing three guys helping to dig out a car, six packs tucked into the snow, singing Christmas carols – that sort of kindness and silliness permeated that week.

I bring this up because the spirit of friendship and neighborliness is alive and well in 2015. And not to embarrass either of them but I would like to single out two individuals who made a real difference for me. First up, is my neighbor Mark – a good guy in every sense of the word and a great neighbor. During one of the recent blizzards, my snow thrower broke. That was the morning I learned the definition of “sheer pin” and its function in a snow thrower. This particular storm was one that “digging out” with a shovel would either be a four hour task, or likely land me at Norwood Hospital in the cardiac unit. I asked Mark if I might borrow his snow thrower; not only did he let me use it, but later in the day came over himself to clean out the additional snow that the snow plows had dropped in the front of my driveway. You’re a great guy Mark, and you probably saved me from a heart attack. I really appreciate your kindness.

Another act of kindness was by my good friend Paul. Paul is the busiest retired person I know. In addition to his many talents, he repairs small engines. I called him the morning the snow thrower broke – I asked if he might come by in a few days after the travel ban was lifted to take a look at the snow thrower. Well, not only did he pick it up two days later, and despite my telling him “no rush” – he had it back two days later. Paul worked on my snow thrower all day that Saturday, he told me he knew another blizzard was coming Monday and he wanted me to be ready. Paul, I told you repeatedly thank you – but truthfully, “thank you” just doesn’t seem like enough, considering that I have used that snow thrower easily eight or nine times since you expertly repaired it. Like Mark, you have very likely prevented me from needing a visit to the cardiac care unit at the nearest hospital. Thank you my friend.

I would also like to thank my friend Kathy who explained to me that “Simple Green,” white vinegar and baking soda WILL get the gasoline smell out of your clothes. Yes, snow-throwers use a lot of gasoline and my clothes and coat smelled like a gas station. Like the clueless guy I am, I put them in the washer with other clothes. D’Oh! Thank you for the cleaning recipe Kathy, it worked like a charm! And yes, I knew NOT to put the clothes in the dryer until the gasoline smell was gone!

Speaking of friends, I have (really!) found Face Book to be a wonderful way to keep in touch and commiserate with friends and acquaintances as we battle our mutual enemy: SNOW. I am tremendously enjoying all of the updates – Face Book has also been a great way to communicate closures, emergencies, needed information, lots of humor, and more. Keep those posts and news coming!

Boston.com wind chill graphic for 2/15/2015
Boston.com wind chill graphic for 2/15/2015

Speaking of news, regarding blizzards, and “weather events” I find that for the most part, the news media is tending to be a little less sensationalistic than they used to be. I vividly remember meteorologists back in the day being unable to hide the smile on their face, and their enthusiasm as one to thirty feet of snow was about to fall on the area. Sure, all news stations still interview the plow driver and ask if he will be out all night. The reporters still pick up the snow and show it to the camera to prove it actually is snow. They stand on top of snow banks to show you how tall the snow banks are. They asked the same silly questions at supermarkets and hardware stores. But I have found that for the most part, news coverage has become more responsible – constant reminders to make sure your gas vents are clear, to stay away from downed power lines, to NOT drive if you absolutely don’t have to… In other words, my own opinion is the media is becoming more responsible, and less sensationalistic. I’m grateful for that.

Speaking of grateful, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who drives the plow all night, or fire truck, ambulance, or police vehicle, or anyone in the service of clearing the roads, and keeping the rest of us safe. Friends, when the newscasters (or the Governor or local officials) say please stay off the road and let the plows and emergency crews do their work, if at all possible, please do so.

Also, there ARE people who MUST drive in this weather. Nurses, doctors, other medical personnel, EMTs, facilities management, the list goes on. There are MANY who MUST be out in this weather. Be safe, and we thank you.

On a related note, while I don’t want to jinx anything, and there are no guarantees, AND very high winds are predicted at this writing, I would like to thank National Grid, Comcast, and Verizon for keeping the power, and the phones and Internet on. I am confident that even if we do have outages, they will be dealt with swiftly – I’m sure none of us will forget the double outages of 2011 – both lasting longer than a week in some places. Lessons were learned, trees were trimmed, and equipment was checked. I am confident that even if there ARE outages, they will be dealt with quickly. Don’t make a liar out of me, okay?

Foxboro temperature 2/15/2015 at 10:30PM - Wind Chill 24 below zero! (accuweather.com graphic)
Foxboro temperature 2/15/2015 at 10:30PM – Wind Chill 24 below zero! (accuweather.com graphic)

Wrapping up the “sincere” and serious part of this op/ed, I feel very bad for the people who don’t get paid if they don’t go to work. If a person is not on salary, and can’t get into work because of a travel ban, or impossible conditions, I honestly wish somehow they could still get paid. So many people live check to check – and maybe it’s just wishful thinking – I’m no politician or business manager – but I wish there were some way for people not to lose so much money during these crisis conditions, so that they could still pay the mortgage, tuition and the food bills. I don’t have a solution here – but I hope someone proposes one.

Well, this column, much like my mind after hours and hours of clearing snow, is a little all over the place. So in typical “Bob” fashion, I’d like to end this piece with some humor – something we ALL need at this point.

I believe it was my friend Derek who first posted this on Face Book: “Hurry! Make sure you get the milk, bread, and eggs – you never know when you might have to make French toast!”

It’s only thirty seconds long but PLEASE Google the video: “Bread & Milk” – THE ORIGINAL VIDEO” it is AWESOME.

I have a feeling that the “back to school” sales will be a little later this summer – mainly because the kids will still be in school. I’m long past school age, but I’m willing to bet even the kids are getting tired of snow days.

Also on a “wink, wink” note I grandly predict a “baby boom” in nine months. Think about it: Valentine’s Day weekend. Most plans canceled because of the storm. The movie “50 Shades Of Gray” opens in theaters nationwide. Yep, I’m thinking a LOT of babies are going to be born mid-October. On behalf of everyone, no matter what you think of the movie, please do not name your child either Anastasia or Christian. Please?

My final humorous note: Global Warming? I welcome you with open arms!

Well, that’s all for now. STAY SAFE my friends! And stay warm! The snow will be over by August (we hope)!

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