, Gloucester, MA

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February 12, 2013

Letter: Blizzard of 2013 a shared experience

To the editor:

Suspenseful, wind-driven grey-white clouds began to paint the meteorological canvas ominously hanging over Cape Ann. The surrounding sea became alarmed at forecasters’ prophetic predictions and grew tempestuous toward its airborne adversary.

A historic wind-wave prizefight was in the offing — perhaps a rematch of ‘78’s unforgettable 33-hour bout. Would 2013’s ‘Nor-easter’ be a championship caliber blizzard or just a highly touted duddard?

New England’s weather savvy citizens outraced the sky to the supermarket. Blown from aisle to aisle by frivolous fear. The corporate dollar and cent tally at the check-out lines being the exact mathematical equivalent of the number of snowflakes destined to fall.

Roasted chickens, deli sandwiches, sushi, pizza, chips and snacks all fled home to refrigerators and cupboards to escape the teeth of the wintry wolf.

Mortals and snow bullying machines uncovered mountains of salt to challenge the enemy if it attacked streets and interstates. Money famished snowplowers gassed and geared up hoping a long-awaited feast of dollars would fall from the heavens.

Lamb-like, at first, the flakes began their descent from high aloft. The wind flashed like a switchblade, changing directions as dark descended, playing emotional roulette with Cape Anners.

In homes, batteries and candles and blankets and flashlights congregated and the mayor called on the phone, whispering her battle plan hoping the storm would not hear.

But the blizzard kept its plans close to the vest as a fast-handed aortic bear drove in from the west to double-date with a swift southern swirl.

At nightfall, the lamb took off her sheep’s clothing to reveal ferocious frosty fangs.

The sea looked up to see a familiar foe who’d gone into seclusion 35 years ago but had returned fit and ring-ready.

Huddled in homes, peering out windows and cracked doors, folks heard and saw under glowing streetlamps, that this one was no pretender. Long into the drowsy night the fluffy blanche avalanche cascaded onto everything wooden and stony, pretty and ugly, fast and slow, over-there, under-here, and down-below.

And children with sleds, truck drivers with treads and civic leaders with heads and pregnant women asleep in beds all now envisioned the same gift: the warm memory of a cold February snow-scare in New England, lived and survived, to be retold as many times and in as many ways as the zillions of snowflakes that water-colored the city and the hearts of its residents.



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