Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Icebergs of New Jersey: A Photo Essay

As a child, my primary impression of snow came from books about children who lived in snowy climates.  In those books, children bundled up and went outside to laugh and play in the snow.  Winter meant colorful mittens, warm mugs of cocoa, and cozy afternoons watching the snow fall followed by walks in the white and glittering outdoors.  In my rich fantasies, I thought snow would be lovely and peaceful.  A lot like this.
the woods & creek at Stickley Farms

My first real experience living with snow came when I moved to Nashville in my 20s.  Tennessee doesn’t have lots of snow and ice, but it has some.  I was enchanted and why wouldn’t I be?  Falling snow is always beautiful to see.  In Nashville, life halted when there was snow and we all stayed home for a day or two until the snow melted and regular life could resume.  

Fine.  Even pleasant.

In Nebraska, I saw snow’s dirty underbelly for the first time.  There, the cold meant that snow could linger and prove an inconvenience.  Towns owned snowplows and salt, often plenty of both, but in my experience both were used sparingly.  In rural Nebraska, when snow came, people got their beater cars out of the barn and drove around town on ridiculously slippery roads.  And we all acted like this was perfectly normal, reasonable behavior.

Not always as charming as one would hope.

In New Jersey, we deal with the snow and deal fast.  Thanks to Nor’easter storms, we can get a lot of snow, more than Nebraska.  But we are equipped for this prospect.  I remember my very first Nor’easter storm in December 2002.  Driving home the night before the storm arrived I saw fleets of Department of Transportation trucks spreading salt and deicers on the roads before the first snowflake had fallen.  That is still the New Jersey pattern and when snow falls, the state roads are quickly cleaned and most towns follow suit (not you, Franklin Township, you are below average).  New Jersey owns the snow and it gets pushed and piled out of the way.

When Winter is cold, as this Winter has been, piles of snow don't melt and instead get mounded into hills and mountains, pushed out of the way to make room for the cars and the next snowfall.  These piles become increasingly dirty and icy mountains of Winter.  Woe betide the tiny tree in the way of plowed snow.
These ugly icebergs are everywhere, though they are handy for those of you who need to abandon your carts, a Jersey habit I find tiresome.
No parking lot is safe from the iceberg heap at every corner.
Look!  More snow has been shoved into a pile.
Bonus points to this iceberg for the growing pot hole by its side
This bench is now reserved for snowmen.
Another Nor’easter is slated to roll in tonight.  Perhaps someone failed to tell Mother Nature that we have no place else to store the snow? Mother Nature, if you are reading, we are tapped out.

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