Sunday, February 06, 2011

A flurry of wintry thoughts

At some point, it’s only natural to wonder how you’re going to attach a snorkel to your dog’s face. As the snow continues to pile up in our yard, every pee break for Memphis is becoming more of an adventure, with her nose just poking up above the surface. Another couple of inches and she’ll have to burrow her way out there like Bugs Bunny, popping up in the neighbor’s yard and saying, “Eh, I knew I shoulda taken that left turn at Albuquerque.”

Somehow, even in the midst of the most snow-whomping winter in memory, I find myself rooting for more snow, even though the results are decidedly against my own interests. When you’re a kid, your brain gets wired to think that snow equals freedom and awesomeness, and a rewiring can only occur after several decades of snowfall yielding nothing but traffic jams and herniated disks.

It’s been slightly more difficult to greet the unceasing snow with a childlike enthusiasm lately, since our son’s daycare shuts down when the schools do, forcing my wife Kara and I to work from home in a blur of snow shovels, teleconferences, laptops and Matchbox car derbies. Have you ever tried to get in a full day’s work while chasing after a 19-month-old who refuses to be entertained by PowerPoint presentations? It’s not easy, but Kara and I manage to get by, mostly because we pass Evan back-and-forth all day, playing our own version of hot potoddler.

Whenever snow is forecast during the day, I can count on looking out onto our parking lot at work and seeing half of the cars with their windshield wipers pointed in the air. If I’m not mistaken, this is a relatively new phenomenon. Nobody used to do this. Ten years ago, when I was a student at Penn State, you’d see oceans of cars parked before a blizzard without a single windshield wiper reaching for the sky, probably because lifting your wiper there would have caused all of your parking tickets to flutter into the bushes.

The first time I saw the windshield wiper trick done, I thought, “Hey, that’s a great idea! It must make cleaning off your car so much easier.”

The next time we had snow in the forecast, I proudly raised my windshield wipers before heading into work. That evening, I returned to my car after several inches had fallen. Imagine my surprise when cleaning off the car turned out to be zero percent easier.

I have since run the same experiment in different types of winter storms, and have collected enough data to be fairly certain that putting your windshield wipers up before a storm serves no purpose except to say, “Look at me, everyone! I knew it was gonna snow!”

Which is perhaps better than some be-bowtied weathermen could do, but still seems hardly worth the effort.

In any event, this winter isn’t showing too many signs of letting up on us anytime soon, with more storms in the forecast and Jack Frost continuing to nip indiscriminately. This is great news for kids who didn’t do their homework, but even better news for global warming deniers, who can spend all day posting Internet comments to the effect that even though NASA reported 2010 as the warmest year in recorded history, snow in the Northeast proves that Al Gore was wrong. And also fat.

Even with the pummeling we’ve endured so far this winter, somehow, each time the snow stops falling, I get a little disappointed, partly because the backbreaking manual labor begins shortly after the last flake flutters to a stop, but mostly because being a child with a sled ruined my brain.

You can kick Mike Todd out of your snow fort at


  1. Hey, where's the little graphic that lets me hit 5 stars for how awesome a post is?
    Aunt S.

  2. Hey Aunt S.! You know, that's a really good question. It sure seems to have disappeared. Sometimes it'll vanish for a bit and come back on its own - hopefully it'll do the same this time.

  3. Hey, I don't see it either! I'd vote 5 stars if I could... I love the idea of attaching a snorkel to Memphis's face. Please have that contraption ready for my visit. xo

  4. I was able to vote with 5 stars...but then again I'm about a week late in posting a comment. The 5 stars is for the very hilarious observation regarding the phenomenon of erect windshield wipers. I too started noticing this in the last few years and decided to jump on board. But alas, you called it - there really is no benefit to the practice. It gave me a good laugh to read though.

    Now I simply use the practice on other cars to express my displeasure with their parking skills. If I see someone has parked illegally, I will lift their blades up and leave them that way - simply so they have a confused reaction upon returning to their car. It serves no real purpose but makes me feel better about someone doing illegal things.

    I'm visting the week after Amy and there better not be the need for the snorkel contraption - no snow. Plus, I will be photographing Evan the whole time and I need some nice warm weather for our shoots.

  5. PS: Would you consider changing the post format so that it includes the date and not just the time on each comment post?

  6. Jered Earl -- I can picture you practicing your vigilante justice on those windshield wipers. I bet that lady you scolded at the 7-11 never put her Yoo-Hoo back in the Mountain Dew slot again after that. And yeah, that would be cool if the dates showed up -- I think it's a default that I can't change, but I'll have a look.