Long Islanders are used to snow and cold weather. The streets are generally ploughed soon after a snowstorm, and after a day when school might be cancelled or delayed in order for everyone to get their shovels (or fancy snow-blowers) and dig out, life usually returns to normality very quickly.
But not this year. Firstly, there has been a lot more snow than usual this January - around 36 inches in New York, as opposed to an average of 7, I believe. The other problem is that the snow is falling so frequently - around every four days since the Boxing Day blizzard that kicked it all off - that there hasn't been enough time for it to melt in between. So snow is piling up, and up, and up....
The Doctor remarked to me yesterday as we were clearing our driveway yet again that 'we're now living in a sort of hole'. And it's true. The snow is banked up around several feet high around our cars, and up the sides of the drive (see above). Our normally wide street has been reduced to a narrow lane, which the schoolbus can barely negotiate; the pavement is a narrow track amid walls of snow and ice. People are having trouble backing out of their drives, because the banked up snow from their opposite neighbours is jutting out into the street.
Walking up the town's Main Street is hardly better. Outside shops and businesses, people have ploughed, but what do they do with the snow? They pile it up. You can just about make it up the pavement, but actually crossing the street is another business. Last night I walked into town (not daring to get the car out, in case the sides of our driveway avalanched into it) and within minutes had completely soaked my feet, despite snowboots, from the huge puddles of slush that had to be negotiated at each street corner.
We like winter sports, and in general we've enjoyed the snowy winters here - it's very beautiful, and the boys love sledding and playing in the snow- but my enthusiasm for the white stuff has started to wear just a little bit thin. School and work are being disrupted at least once a week. I'm working full time at the moment (from home); however, I seem to have to spend part of my working day running outside with a shovel to make sure I can actually pick up Littleboy 2 from preschool. The other day, I got stuck halfway up the drive on the way back from dropping him, because over an inch of snow had fallen between 9am and 10am. I am seriously starting to see the benefits of a 4x4.
Every day brings a new phone call consisting of a recorded message from the town's police department - the one I just listened to started off, "As we are all aware, this has been a very harsh winter...". It's either that or the school district, phoning at 5.30am to inform us that there's no school that day (thanks, you just made a long day with the boys even longer...).
A look at next week's forecast is hardly cheering. More snow is forecast on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. No end in sight. There is only one consolation to the winter onslaught - a fantastic ski season. We're going again this weekend, this time to the Catskills - and (providing we make it up the mountain) the slopes should be perfect......