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The Snowpocalypse!

2010 Fay Jacobs

Fay Jacobs

In Rehoboth Beach, an area not used to wintery wallops, it's often joked that the snow removal policy around here is "what the lord giveth, the lord taketh away." It's not far from the truth.

Oh the weather outside WAS frightful on Superbowl weekend 2010 and it caught lots of coastal residents by surprise. We hadn't seen so much snow here since 1996.

Lots of people gulped in surprise Thursday night Feb. 4 when weather forecasters uttered the B-word, for blizzard. Pink blobs on the weather map warned of heavy snow for D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. Oddly, there was a bright orange blob over Southern Delmarva and Southern New Jersey - preparing us to bear the brunt of the storm. Who are they kidding? We never get as much as they predict. Oh really?

Friday afternoon saw flurries and on Friday evening brave souls made it along the messy roads to local watering holes for a last taste of restaurant food and bartender-fixed adult beverages. While we were downing our Cosmos, the flurries turned more furious. We were leaving the bar when we heard the Governor's announcement of a state-wide snow emergency with non-essential travel prohibited. It may well have been a state of emergency for folks who had neglected to get to the grocery, which, from the look of the ravaged shelves and bursting parking lots, were very few.

So we were home by 9 pm on Friday, hunkered down with the pups and ready to sneer at forecasters for blowing things out of proportion once again.

Okay, it was big. We awoke Saturday morning to almost a foot of snow, backyard barbecues buried in dunes, light stuff still falling and hopes it was tapering off.

Okay, it got bigger. Mea Culpa to those forecasters. As the dogs and I watched our Alpha clear the front walk, it was startling to see the path turn bright white again even as she worked to keep up with it. The only thing happening faster than the snow was our consumption of calories. Why does being snowbound trigger our basest instincts? The four of us huddled on the sofa, carbohydrate loading and thanking our lucky stars for a DVD of The L Word and a collection of lesbian romances we'd been meaning to read.

In fairness, I balanced my pathetic empty calories with my new health food regimen: red wine and dark chocolate. Seriously. They have been declared good for you. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

By mid-day Saturday, just when we thought it was safe to go back in a watering hole, hoping the snow might taper off, the reverse happened and the flakes started coming down faster, bigger and with major drifting from increased winds. Whiteout conditions ensued and you couldn't see two feet in front of your face, where eight paws searched in vain for a spot of grass in the drift-contoured back yard.

When we opened the sliding glass door in the sunroom to toss the two Schnauzers into the snow, concerns for their health, not to mention our carpets, were assuaged when we spied small areas of yellow snow. Good boys. Unfortunately, drifting snow blew into the door track, and unbeknownst to us kept the door from closing all the way. Next time we looked we had a bunny slope in the sunroom.

By late afternoon our lights and cable flickered, frightening us into locating our wind-up radio. Fear of losing internet, tv, phone and lights, channeling Mary Todd Lincoln for Superbowl weekend, was not my idea of a gay old time.

Fortunately the lights and cable held, and as day progressed to night we had benefit of electric light to see just how much popcorn and pizza we were shoveling down our throats. Somebody stop me! But we were thankful to be able to watch our TV personalities, frostbit and pathetic, reporting live from the scene.

Come a sunny Sunday morning, the full extent of the mess revealed itself. Entire communities stood stranded by unplowed streets. The only action outside my house was the occasional sound of spinning wheels and groans from hikers struggling toward the re-opening grocery stores. Cigarettes? Booze? Both? I wondered how long I'd last before setting out once the cupboard was bare of Oreos.

Some hardy and fool-hardy people started digging themselves out of the two-foot deluge. My mate and I decided to take turns trying to free up one car and a path for it to back out into the street. With both of us being middle aged (provided we live until 120) we were acutely aware of being cautious. One of us would do a 15-minute stint with our only snow shovel while the other would nag "bend your knees, don't lift too much at once, stop if you get winded," then we'd switch places and continue the routine.

At one point an ambulance slogged up the road.. We never saw it come back, since we instantly abandoned shoveling with thoughts of heart attacks and strokes dancing in our heads. After a few minutes inside, watching a Law & Order Marathon and enjoying a doctored hot chocolate, we determined we were not in acute medical danger. We did not, however, return to shoveling. If our street ever did get plowed, a wall of snow would just get pushed onto our newly cleared driveway. Like Scarlet says in Gone with the Wind, "After all, tomorrow is another day."

And speaking of another day, knowing when to fold, the school board called off school for both Monday and Tuesday by 1 p.m. on Sunday. Some restaurants announced they would still fry chicken wings and serve beverages for the Superbowl, but others threw in the towel and stayed dark. A quick check revealed it was the GLBT places keeping the lights on.

With cameras snapping the snowy sights and kitchens all over the coast preparing football food, a blizzard-covered Sussex County took it in stride. While some worked at digging out, others dug in for the big game. It sure looked toasty in Miami and New Orleans.

By Monday afternoon, some neighborhoods were still cut off from civilization, and front-end loaders had created mountains of dirty white ice and snow in medians, parking lots and throughout downtown Rehoboth. At traffic lights, most right turn lanes were also blocked by great walls of snow, making the Yield signs especially useful. According to that Pennsylvania rodent Punxutawny Phil, spring thaw is still six weeks away and from the look of things, the snow piles could last until through June and Pride Week.

On Tuesday morning it was starting to seem like the classic film Groundhog Day, with everything repeating itself. The weather forecast called for Snowmeggedon part two. Just a mere 8-10 inches this time. Mere.

Damn those necessities! We had plenty of toilet paper and milk, but the dog food and mac 'n cheese was running low. My spouse, eager to play with her four-wheel-drive vehicle, fought her way out onto the unplowed street so we could slog to the store and get home without bottoming out on the slopes.

Mission accomplished, if you'll excuse the expression, we turned on the tv in time to hear the school board close school for the rest of the week. At this point my spouse will be working until July 4th.

They say that our climate change problems can cause violent weather shifts along with the disturbing rise in global temperatures. But a little of that global warming would have felt pretty good right for February at the beach!
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Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Advocate, OUTtraveler, The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.

Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her columns are collected in the books, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach Memoir and the newly published Fried & True - Tales of Rehoboth Beach.

Fay is Publisher and Managing Editor of A&M Books, the publisher of the 14 classic Sarah Aldridge novels.

She and Bonnie, her partner of 25 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.

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