Dunreith, Aidan and I are waiting out Blizzard 2010 in the Westwood home of Dunreith’s childhood friend Susan and her husband Evan, the source of many books I have written about in this blog.
As a lawyer for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Evan has access to lots of high-quality books, a number of which he has sent my way.
Sitting here in his study, I can see Hunting Eichmann, Neal Bascomb’s riveting account of the band of Israelis who located, captured and transported the genocide impelementer and secretary at the notorious Wannsee Conference.
Last night, Evan gave me a copy of The Best American Sports Writing 2007, edited ably as always by Glenn Stout, with guest assistance in that year by David Maraniss, author of Clemente. Stout presented to my Sports Writing Class at Brown Middle School in the mid-90s: we saw each other again last year when he was in town for a television bit with Dick Johnson, his co-author on a book about Fenway Park.
At Evan’s recommendation, I read an essay about the quirky Jake Scott, safety and Super Bowl MVP for the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team that still is the only NFL team to have gone through an entire regular and post season with an unblemished record.
As I am typing this, Evan’s snow blower is dislodging huge chunks of snow from their driveway and front walkway.
We arrived in Westwood yesterday afternoon as the snow was beginning to pick up momentum, but had not gained its full power.
Susan and Evan keep their house at a comfortable temperature, and the home’s warmth was augmented by their unfailing generosity, which included sitting on their long, comfortable couch and sipping piping hot cups of ginger tea while we watched a half-dozen football games at once courtesy of Evan’s recently purchased subscription to NFL Red Zone.
The pace of the afternoon and evening was easy and relaxed, and the physical comfort of sitting in a cozy living room were enhanced by the joy in renewing and deepening ties with longtime friends, and the pleasure in seeing Aidan enjoy spending time with their daughters Danielle and Sydney and Sydney’s best friend Shoshanna.
Hearing the howling wind and watching the inches of snow accumulate outside accentuated the pleasure, too.
During and after the football games, we took periodic checks outside and at the various weather stations, watching the bundled up reporters assert that the snowfall, which is due to lighten within an hour or so, was indeed a blizzard. The cancellations of work, school and religious institutions scrolling at the bottom of the television screen buttressed that claim.
A blizzards it may be, and, for my money, all such snowfalls must measure up to the standard of the Blizzard of 1978.
I’ve written about this before, and it was a glorious time in early February 1978, when nature’s fury was unleashed on the region over the course of a couple of days, depositing more than two feet of snow and beginning a time when we didn’t even check the radio to see if school was cancelled.
We just knew.
That knowledge did not kick in until the second day of snowfall, though. Despite our entreaties that we check to see if school had been cancelled, Mom insisted that Mike, Jon and I bundle up and trudge off to Pierce School.
We made it as far as the cross walk on Park Street, when a ruddy-faced policeman asked where we were going and yelled at us to return home when he learned the answer.
We didn’t attend school for weeks, having eventually to go early and start late toward the end of the year to avoid finishing seventh grade in mid-July.
Snow ploughs pushed incomprehensible amounts of the white stuff into the corner of a parking lot near Coolidge Corner we used to walk through on the way to Hebrew School. Mike, my best friend Adam Rosenberg, his sister Kim and I spent hours climbing the result of the ploughers’ labors that to us resembled Everest. Sometimes our boots came off during the ascent.
A blissful period when we lived through it, the Blizzard of 1978 has by now accumulated more than three decades of memories and nostalgia.
Sitting in Evan and Susan’s living room and taking in the weather reports, I understand that this year’s version will not match in inches what we lived through in 1978.
I also know that even if the amount of snow dropped from the heavens exceed the total of that long ago February, that blizzard will never be surpassed because of the age that I was then, the unfettered joy in knowing you don’t have to attend school, and the wonder of not knowing when the snow will ever end.
While I may not be like Bill Clinton, who, upon turning 50 said he had more yesterdays than tomorrows, I do know that I am in the middle of my life’s journey. My childhood is over, even as its pleasures are occasionally heightened by the warming distance of time and rekindled by the steady and gentle falling of snow on a dear friend’s roof in my native region.