Whiteout!

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Last night (or rather, early this morning) when I went to bed, it was definitely cold out, but there wasn’t any snow to speak of. This morning, however, I rolled out of bed, into my clothes, and ran toward the bus (I was a bit off schedule) only to discover ankle-deep snow piled up against my front door. Dugleg student that I am, I headed toward the bus, warmly encased in a coat that is basically a sleeping bag, but unfortunately without enough time to turn around and put on my snow-veralls. (Unfortunate because my coat ends mid shins and my snow boots end just above my ankles, and well, that means that a very small (but still important) part of my legs were pretty quickly soaked and quite, quite chilly. But I digress…)

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As ever, the pictures don’t really do the conditions justice, partially because I was unwilling to fling myself into snow drifts for the sake of my art.

When I got to school, there were only two other students from my class. Eventually, about a dozen people showed up and class proceeded as normal. By the time I got out of class, however, we were approaching what appeared to me to be whiteout conditions.

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I kid, but only a bit. Visibility was such that standing in the snow-filled bus shelter, I could only see cars once they were 8 to 10 feet away. The wind, of course, was whipping up in a frenzy, snow was gusting in all directions, and a thick layer of ice almost immediately crusted on my boot tops, eyebrows, collar, etc. It was rather unpleasant, I must admit.

For an amusing point of reference, I suggest you watch the “Bucket Head” sequence of the hilariously existential Herzog “documentary” about Antarctica, Encounters at the End of the World. The full 14 minute clip above is worth the watch, but the bit I am talking about starts at 6:42.

I figured the bus would be running slowly, but probably still running, so I waited for about 20 minutes. At that point, my hands were starting to hurt, my legs–between the coat and boots–were approaching numbness, and well, it didn’t look like the weather was going to get any better. So I started walking home. It’s about 15-20 minutes from school to our apartment on a good day, but even then, the section of the walk where you go alongside the ocean and are basically unsheltered in every direction, can be really difficult when it is windy. So I wasn’t so much looking forward to that bit. But I trudged along, sinking up my knees in snow with some steps, feeling quite valiant as I went.

Perhaps this show of persistence pleased the Great Blizzard Spirit, because just as I was rounding the corner where the wind would have undoubtedly gone from pushy to quasi-dangerous, the bus pulled up right next to me. The very nice driver–with an otherwise empty bus–let me know, after picking me up, that bus service was being halted. I was actually on the very last bus home–he was going to park it at the end of the route and that would probably be it for the day.

I can’t imagine driving a bus in a snowstorm. The driver had to stop ever so often because you just couldn’t see anything out the front window except white, white, white. On our way through my neighborhood (which doesn’t get a lot of early plowing), we passed a tractor that was trying to clear out mid-road snow drifts, and two cars that were buried or stuck. I hopped out–sunk to the thigh this time–waded home, and was greeted, most happily, by the ever-so-soothing sound of the kettle on.

This is the view from my living room window right now:

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I think we’re gonna be here for awhile…

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