My first winter in the US is almost over and its been a rather intense one! I’ve learnt a lot this winter (mostly that I should have married an American who lived in Florida and not Massachusetts to be honest) and I thought I’d share some of my new-found knowledge with you.
1. Boston drivers are very protective about their parking.
When you’ve had over 100 inches of snowfall in six weeks and a lot of parking spaces disappear under huge snowbanks parking in Boston turns into the Wild West. People save the parking spaces they’ve cleared with an amusingly huge variety of household objects. I’ve seen chairs, cones, tables, a bookshelf, Hoovers and even a toilet protecting parking spaces. There’s so much household furniture in our street at the moment that I feel like I’m walking down a fucking aisle in Ikea. Move one of these space savers at your peril; people have had tires slashed, windows broken or their car keyed for the terrible sin of taking a spot on a public street. Passive aggressive rating: 5/5.
2. Snow is out to get you!
Whether it collapses your roof, makes you crash your car or compacts into ice that makes your walk to the train a lethal obstacle course, snow is out to get you. Shovelling is a great way to get frostbite and a bad back, particularly when the snow is wet and heavy. The city is quick to clear the roads but property owners are responsible for clearing sidewalks (pavements) and not all of them do, meaning that you run the risk of falling over every time you leave the house. I haven’t fallen yet but I have slid and hit my knee on a fire hydrant while walking to the shops. My personal low point came when I slipped and nearly fell on a pool of frozen dog piss.
3. Spring is Late
This time last year I was in England and the signs of spring were already plain to see. Flowers were blooming and trees were starting to show new growth. More importantly, the temperatures were rising by the week. It’s a little bit different in New England, we have so much snow that I haven’t even seen grass since January, I kid you not. It’s been so cold that we had one day above freezing in the whole of February. One day! This Wednesday we are forecast the warmest day for months (7C) and I’m tempted to wear just one layer to work to celebrate. I can’t complain though, New England summers are much better than English ones and summer is only a matter of months away now, even though its snowing heavily as I type this and it doesn’t feel much like it!
4. Snow is a great icebreaker
Whether it is talking to your colleagues at work about the weather, sharing horror stories about the meltdown of the MBTA (Boston’s transit network) or talking to your neighbours for the first time as you are all outside the house shovelling, snow is a great way to break the ice. Until your neighbour asks you if you remember the great storm of 1978 that is. I’m not even 30 yet for Christ’s sake! Talking about the weather with strangers is something that makes even this socially awkward Brit feel immediately at home and I wish it happened year round here. One thing I’ve noticed is that people are very sympathetic when I tell them it’s my first winter here and tell me that next winter will probably be less awful. Probably.
5. Snow is a lot of fun
There are so many different ways to enjoy the snow that I didn’t find out until I moved to the US. Cross country skiing in the middle of a city park, snow mobiles, snow tubing and sledding. I’ve only began to scratch the surface of enjoying everything that winter here has to offer. Then there is the spectator sport that we all like the most, sitting by the window and watching others fall over, preferably whilst clutching a mug of hot chocolate. I’ve decided that on balance, my first winter could have been a lot worse, although I’d happily settle for only 20% as much snow next year!
What was your worst winter?