Surviving My First Winter

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.

Saving your space with unwanted household furniture is a tradition after snow storms. Image source
Saving your space with unwanted household furniture is a tradition after snow storms. Image source

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.

Clearing this much snow is good for the arm muscles and bad for the back!
Clearing this much snow is good for the arm muscles and bad for the back!

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.

Snow tubing is a lot of fun
Snow tubing is a lot of fun

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?

20 thoughts on “Surviving My First Winter

  1. I love your optimism here in saying it’s nearly spring. I recall winters in New Jersey that lasted until mid-April. We lived at the top of a huge hill and oftentimes had to leave the car at the bottom and trudge up in the snow. You have gotten a huge dose of it this year, though, and if that didn’t chase you off I think you’ll fit right in! 🙂

  2. My worst (I’m sure I’ve mentioned) was when I was living in the southeast in 2010. I’d come home for mum’s birthday and on that fateful morning (6th January) I decided to brave the weather – which would take me through Basingstoke (the worst affected town in the UK) – to get back. I don’t know why I decided to travel. I was unemployed so didn’t need to rush back for work.

    But I made it. A journey that usually took around 75 minutes took me nearly 4 hours. My car remained in one piece despite seeing so many abandoned on the main roads around Basingstoke. This was snow that at it’s worst point was just two feet deep.

    Yeah, I won’t be travelling like that again unless I really have to!

  3. My worst winter (if it can be described as ‘worst’; I thought it was quite fun) was in France in about 2005. The temperature reached -17 degrees Celsius outside and -15 degrees INSIDE the house. I slept in all my clothes and melted scarves on the single gas heater we had. Hot food was pretty much out as well, as it was cold by the time it reached the plates…
    My parents decided that staying in England for winters was a better option after that.

    1. I don’t think I’d actually survive if it was -15 inside the house, I’ve had a few mornings waiting for the train and it was -30 but at least the house was warm when I got home. I don’t blame your parents for wanting to spend winter in England after that!

      1. I don’t think ten-year-old me quite grasped the seriousness of the situation! I was just annoyed that it meant we had to miss out on the snow.
        At least we were prepared for it – the house is four stone walls and a roof in the middle of the mountains of French nowhere so we were expecting to have to deal with cold…we just weren’t expecting it to be THAT cold!

  4. Sadly, this isn’t the worst winter that I have experienced, and I haven’t been around that long. On a positive point though, usually when a winter is this bad, we have a nice hot summer that comes around eventually. I personally think this would be an awesome first winter to experience because snow in the north east is always dangerously fun!

  5. blondieaka

    From memory worst(for the grownups) but it was 1963 and I was a mere 12 years old and we had home made sledges(an old door) cut down what fun that was….when we got to school and no they didn’t close them our wet cothes adorned all the radiators, it was like a steam room…. I look at your pics with envy but from afar..ha ha…and see the beauty but can remember the pitfalls it was not so many winters ago when visiting my mum and had to walk the final half mile cos the hill road was closed that I did a spectacular skid resulting in sitting on my rear end ,which made the milkman laugh… yep ernie could do hills in the snow…ha ha… here in sunny Phuket we never get snow or cold for that matter..cools down a little at certain times of the year but still warm and thats how I like it..I worship your snow from afar …. have fun!

      1. blondieaka

        Oh Yes 🙂 But we live where our hearts lie don’t we? The weather is a bonus or maybe not…ha ha 🙂

      1. recommended you, since you hail from the same area in the Old Country. Since I love New England and the humor of Tastehitch, it was a no brainer. 🙂

  6. Pingback: 2015 In Review With Photos | Old England to New England

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