Friday, February 10, 2017

The Winter of Our Discontent

It snowed yesterday in New York City. In the part of the Bronx I call home, I’d estimate we got around five inches. Central Park in Manhattan recorded over nine inches. I was though pleased to be on the low end of the snow spectrum. As a boy, I would have exceptionally disappointed that the storm named Niko by the Weather Channel didn’t live up to all the hype—in my little snippet of the world at least. Nevertheless, shoveling five inches of heavy wet snow was no walk in the park; no Sunday picnic. And the fact that it got bitterly cold overnight seriously compounded those measly five inches. While it wasn’t exactly a winter wonderland this morning, it was quite icy. Courtesy of a ton of rock salt and calcium, the area streets were a slushy mess. Walking to and fro was not for the faint of heart.

In the snow-loving days of my distant past, unshoveled walkways didn’t give me pause. They were obstacles effortlessly overcome with a pair of good construction boots and youthful agility. That was then and this is now. Unshoveled, or minimally shoveled sidewalks, make me angry nowadays—really angry sometimes—because I look upon them as a matter of life and death. After all, an unshoveled piece of concrete can throw a big-time wrench into getting from point A to point A. And having to walk out into the Bronx streets to bypass icy stretches amounts to swapping one potential danger for another. I don’t want to get hit by an SUV on the post-snowfall narrower city streets, or meet my maker at the foot of a snowplow or salt (and calcium) spreader.

Looking on the bright side of things, this winter has been relatively benign—weather wise. But it’s other events and circumstances—beyond the fickle whims of Mother Nature—that have made this a winter of discontent for a lot of people. Surfing the New York City Department of Sanitation’s web page today, I noticed a list of holidays. I was buoyed by the fact that Monday, February 20th was classified as Washington’s Birthday, the way it once was—and should have always remained—before it morphed into the wishy-washy Presidents’ Day.

After watching three seasons of Turn, the compelling AMC series based on the best-selling book Washington’s Spies, on Netflix, I developed this insatiable urge for stuff on the Revolutionary War and the Founders. I even ordered on DVD an old PBS series from the 1990s called Liberty. And all I could think of when watching it was how far we’ve fallen. But I don’t believe we’ve fallen and can’t get up. This too shall pass, he said.

(Photos from the personal collection of Nicholas Nigro)

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