‘Riders on the storm.’ A nor’easter wallops New England. Its aftermath, Sunday, February 10, 2013. The landscape of our mind changed.

February 12, 2013 | Author: | Posted in Opinion
The blizzard of February, 2013

The blizzard of February, 2013

 

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. Whatever you were doing, whatever you thought important a moment before. Whatever your plans, schemes, intentions, wishes and desires, each alone and all together are trumped by the hauteur of wintry weather… a force of Nature, a creation of God which goes where it would and cavorts as it pleases with no thought whatsoever about us, puny beings consigned to cower on the sidelines by a force pure majesty, unimaginable energy… breathtaking beauty… certain killer… covering all corruption in white, just long enough for us to imagine our world pure and pristine again.

All hail such power… not least because it reminds us of our true place in the Cosmos and how little we count.

For such a time, the music is “Riders on the Storm,” recorded in December, 1970. As things turned out, it was Jim Morrison’s last recorded song. It entered the Top 100 on 3 July, 1971, the day  Morrison in all his unmatched beauty died, removing a troubled man from this Earth, leaving behind a legend which causes fervent pilgrims to break off stones from his defaced monument in the cemetery Pere Lachaise, his final resting place, where there is still no rest.

Or for us, either.

Portents, Friday afternoon.

Even the fiercest of blizzards begins with a single frail flake, exquisite, poetry from ice, so lovely in its decent from heaven we must stop and wonder. We have seen it before, but no matter how rushed we may be, we pause to see it carry its celestial luster to a habitat which all of a sudden seems dreary without its allure. This is not snow; it is cool alchemy, turning commonplace elements into joy that dances before your eyes, kissed by wind, beckoning you from every responsibility, joy, pure  joy…  thus do even the greatest storms begin, as small bits of magic held in hand, and if you’re lucky, captured on tongue, an agile result which no age eschews, even the oldest for whom the subtle taste is a passport to years gone by and people long gone and cherished.

“Blown away”.

But, of course, the first snow flake is but the precursor of millions. And so while we scrutinize the first with eagerness and scrupulous attention, we prepare for all the rest, if not expecting the worst, at least readying for it. This time it came, in all its rampant ferocity, voracious, inexorable, inimical to everything in its path, no matter how hallowed or substantial. All of us, each thing, held hostage, no succor handy or soon expected. Thus were we humbled by a thing we had held in our hands just hours before, welcomed and extolled.

“Meterological bomb”

What had happened? Gleeful meteorologists, with too little to do this winter until now, tripped over themselves to educate a public suddenly desirous to know all — and assess their peril accordingly. Thus we learned every worrisome and anxious aspect of the storm galloping to the very heart of our seaboard civilization, now a target, not just a desirable destination.

The jet stream that flows from west to east, 18,000 feet above the surface of the Earth, has two branches: a polar stream that takes a northerly route and a second, more southerly stream. When those branches converge (which is not infrequent during the winter), snow falls, as the frigid air from the north mingles with the humid air from the south. This winter there was very little of this mingling.

Until Friday.

And then we all became riders on the storm as we raced to the security of homes and families now in the face of threat more precious than ever.  Would we be in time? Thus little by little as we fled prayers were sent aloft; first a handful, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands, heartfelt, sent up from even the least believing, while in the background dead Morrison’s incantation became insistent, “Riders on the storm… riders on the storm… riders on the storm.” Suddenly the God we usually bury deep in the recesses of our mind, was apparent, puissant and vital… our true shield and bulwark, not just a word we use in vain. “O God, our hope in ages past…”

Just how at risk we were, how right to worry, how right to prepare the statistics tell:

190,000 power outages reported 2,000 utility crews mobilized to respond to power outages 4,000 pieces of snow-clearing equipment on the road 5,000 National Guard members activated 416 flights from Logan Airport canceled… the air now belonging to the dangerous weather, more powerful and more beautiful than ever.

“Killer on the road, yeah.”

Then from the Corner Office under Bullfinch’s great golden dome came the final indication, if one were needed, that the situation was bad and likely to get worse. His Excellency Governor Patrick, no alarmist, startled the Commonwealth by banning almost all traffic from Massachusetts roads. And so we all found ourselves marooned, cut  off, alone, as the storm grew and excited weather experts found themselves in urgent demand, glad to inform us just how bad things really were and hint at records over the Great Blizzard  of ’78, records sure to fall before the impressive matter of our own troubles.

One such fact might truly beguile the Governor, namely that the last governor to apply such bold remedies was Michael Dukakis. No one knows better than Patrick that this predecessor secured the Democratic presidential nomination one year after he ruled the blizzard-stuck state, a sweater-clad executive ruling by media. How awfully clear that picture, that possibility must be to His Current Excellency, perhaps potent enough to obscure the fact Michael Dukakis lost resoundingly. So I remind him this: snow makes head-aches, not presidents.

Close but no cigar.

And then, bit by bit, the whole shebang begins to change. The snow falters. The skies open, light blue beneath dark gray, and Sol Invictus shines through as if Little Orphan Annie, that unquenchable optimist, had finally got her wish…

… best of all those obnoxious weather people, filled with helium, seem to deflate before our eyes. We have survived… the evidence is everywhere. And so I decide to go out early Sunday morning, for I like to see for myself.

The roads are passable, the snow piled efficiently and high, brick sidewalks with a coating of snow; so much better than the dangerous black ice that will come with melting. Crooked paths abound; I see I am no pathfinder though it is early. And I am glad for my legs can be unsteady, and I am too proud to use a cane, though I am wavering.

I carefully walk the two blocks to the Sheraton Commander, where hot buttered toast and storm tales are to be had, the egregious waiter (never condescending to a smile) orders me away from a table for four (for I have newspapers to spread and spill on); saying I must use an inconvenient table for just two. There are just 4 people in the entire restaurant but the waiter is inflexible. It is a sure sign the blizzard and its aura of comrades and fellow travelers is over.

This feeling is reinforced when one of my new neighbors (going away) is forced to pass me (going home) on a trail as narrow as a celery stalk. I stop to let him by and wish him a good morning. He glowers, looks at the ground and rushes on, making sure he never catches my eye. Yes, we are back to normal while the storm named “Nemo” (“no one”) blows North into other anxious lives waiting for it now, praying for deliverance.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

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