MARAC/NEA Spring 2015: Cabin Fever

By Kate Bowers
I told myself I’d do three things today: clean the oven, write this blog, and do some laundry. Now it’s 9:39 PM and I’ve only begun writing. But it’s all good—really!
Today was the day of the great melt. After 4 weeks of below-freezing weather, temperatures soared this afternoon to a blissful, balmy, meltingly delicious 37 degrees!  I put my oven on its self-cleaning cycle and opened some windows.
Chop. Pause. Chop. Pause. Chop.
I live in a triple-decker. That sound was my neighbor, Sarah, hacking at the ice at the end of our driveway. I grabbed a shovel and joined her. She was liberating gray chunks of compacted snow, road salt, and grime with cheerful determination. She walloped, I scooped. Small shovelfuls I’d fling onto a snow pile as tall as I am. If the load was heavy, I’d walk a few steps down the street and heave them onto one only shoulder-high. After 45 minutes we exchanged tools and duties. After an hour and a half we left behind a much smaller iceberg, strategically graded and salted for traction. It was satisfying. It was fun.
And that’s what the great melt did for a lot of us today. Boston-area winters are often snowy, but our snow is usually followed by a day or two of above-freezing temperatures. The day after a big snowfall, you expect to shovel out, throw a snowball or two, and chat with the neighbors who are all doing the same thing. You expect to go to the movies. Go to yoga. See your friends.
Not this year. It’s been blizzards every weekend followed by relentless wind, single-digit temperature readings, and weekdays of hellish commutes. No one’s been hanging around outside long enough to chat. Everyone has had to cancel something. If it wasn’t the weather itself, it was what the weather has done to our aging public transit. My writing group has cancelled. Not just once. We have cancelled three times.
Things have been even harder for folks who aren’t physically able to move safely in these conditions. My parents and their friends are mostly in their eighties. When the weather gods provided a brief window and I was able to visit, my mother sighed, “I’m just glad for the company.”
Kate’s parents peeking out of their home
This one warm day has reminded us all that Spring will come. But everyone’s psyche is still a bit frayed—we have backlog of socializing.
At 6:15 I was mulling ideas for the blog and thinking about a load of dark wash when my phone rang.
“I’m going crazy.”
“Come on over,” I said.
Pizza. Sitting on the couch chatting. I think we watched a cat video. Normal, post-modern socializing.
So I’m finishing this blog several hours later than I intended to, but I wouldn’t have missed my friend’s visit for the world. And I can’t imagine better timing for a joint MARAC/NEA conference than at the end of this punishing winter.
NEA members will be happy to see you.
And we could really use the company.

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