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That night, Saturday, January 22, the Blizzard of ’05 hit and it hit hard. Eighteen inches blanketed the Cape. The Plymouth-Brockton bus from P-town to Boston’s Logan airport stopped running, barring access to the mainland. Mayor Menino slept in a chair at his office in Boston’s City Hall. Snow emergencies were declared across Boston and the Cape. Schools and business were closed. Reporters descended upon the streets of Boston, working their way through tunnels flanked by sixfoot-high drifts. The west wall of the Work Center’s Common Room looked like something out of The Shining. The normally easy-going, tolerant residents of Provincetown began brawling over parking spots that they had shoveled out and then tried to save, ironically, by staking a claim with a beach chair. Interviewed in front of a massive snowdrift, one woman simply said, “Make it stop.” Thankfully, we still had power. The first storm was difficult. The second storm felt personal. I had forgotten how much physical effort it requires to walk through waist-deep snow. Midway across the parking lot on Sunday morning, I tumbled over into the snow and start calling plaintively for Carrie, who was making her way down ice-covered stairs. I knew snow, right? I have vivid memories of skipping school for days and building snow caves with my brother. I’d been downhill skiing since I was six years old. I am a winter person, I repeated to myself, and struggled upright. But the last time I had an encounter with a nor’easter, I wasn’t on clean-up duty. This time, I was the one with the shovel, balancing precariously on an ice-covered step, pushing an icy clump of snow off the balcony and onto the ground, using a “cut shovel” to slice through layers of icy, wet drifts so that the piles are easier to pick up. \(A shovelful of nor’easter snow feels like lifting a My wrists and my back ached. My face was wind-burned and numb. Twice a wicked gust of freezing wind knocked me over. Drifting snow quickly filled the tunnels we had cleared just a few minutes before. In the Common Room, folks who wisely hadn’t signed up to shovel, watched with pity as Carrie and I fell backwards, our shovels lifted into the air like stiff and ineffective flags. We saw some of our friends with their faces pressed to frosty apartment windows, waiting to be shoveled out. “It’s never like this,” a member of the Center’s staff later told us. Yeah, right. On Sunday, grumpy and stir-crazy, the fellows gathered in the snow-cave, formerly referred to as the Common Room, either playing ping-pong or plowing through the stash of alcohol that was left over from New Year’s. Some watched the Patriots-Steelers game on television. Someone made lasagna. The wind howled. Windows rattled. The last time people were this depressed was during the election, when we watched the returns with the hope that the Red Sox triumph over the Yankees in the World Series would somehow translate into Dubya’s defeat at the polls. he storm was one of the worst in Massachusetts history, with several deaths attributed to its fury. This fact was not lost on me as I hacked away at the black ice coagulated on the doorsteps of our modest living accommodations. A dead body was found under two feet of snow in Chelsea, a suburb of Boston. A Boston Globe reporter had a heart attack while shoveling snow and later died. A young boy died after sitting in an idling car with its tailpipe packed with snow. Even after the plows had come through the main streets of Provincetownand the sanders after thatdrivers were still doing soft, slow 360-degree turns down the hill. The outsides of houses looked like the insides of freezers, crusted over in bumpy snow. The icy tide in Provincetown harbor nearly covered the town pier. The Cape got “thirty inches plus” of snow. The wind, which gusted at 80-miles-per-hour, had formed meringue-like drifts that completely submerged cars, doorways, and driveways. On Monday, blue sky finally emerged. Birds chirped merrily. With nowhere to put the snow, plows left six-foot-high drifts in front of shopkeeper’s doors. Parking? Forget about it. To avoid flooding during the eventual thaw, snow was loaded onto dump trucks; we wondered wistfully where it was going. \(Some Boston suburbs have their own snow dumps. The “snow farms” and their locations, like mass-mobster graves, are as yet undisclosed. A headline in the Globe grimly stated, “Snow’s final restHouston said flatly, “I hate it here.” On Tuesday, word went around that another 10 inches were expected. By noon on Wednesday, the snow was falling heavily and the ground was covered. Carrie called to say she was having a meltdown. “I don’t feel like I can do this any more,” she said. “It’s interfering with my work.” I knew what she meant. “I need to finish my book,” I said. \(Knowing, of course, that my departure from snow patrol would not guarantee that I would And so we resigned our shovels to the next hearty duo, whom the Center will pay to ensure that I don’t break my neck stepping out of my house the morning after a snowfall. It will be someone else’s job to bust the ice at the bottom of our doors and sweep the drifts outside the Center’s Common Room. I can’t say that I’ll miss it. But there is something about extreme weather both of the Texas and Provincetown varietythat appeals to me. There’s something satisfying about making it through one of those July days when the temperature is over 100. And there’s definitely something about the sound halfway between a crunch and a mellow squeak that rubber-soled boots make over packed snow on a paved road. It inspires a weird happiness in me. I love the soft crash of boots through the breakable surface of soft snow. And I’m sure that I’ll miss it. Someday. Emily Rapp received her MFA at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin last spring. She reports that the current Provincetown temperature is 25 degrees, with scattered sunshine, clouds, andof coursesnow showers expected. ‘ MARCH 4, 2005 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31