Expressway: My love-hate relationship with snow

Jerry Giammatteo goes snowshoeing with his sons, Chris, Jerry Giammatteo goes snowshoeing with his sons, Chris, then 16, and Scott, 11, upstate in 2009. Photo Credit: Giammatteo family photo

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I will be the first to admit that for most of my life I have loved the snow.

When I was a child, it came naturally. My dad would curse the white stuff because he had to commute by auto, first from the Bronx to New Jersey and then from Flushing.

I can recall a 15-inch snowfall in February 1969 when we lived in Flushing. My dad reviled Mayor John V. Lindsay's administration for a rather spotty snow-removal effort. Not me. Because of the failure of City Hall to plan for the storm, and the ineptitude of the Department of Sanitation, a one-day break from school turned into a full week of snowball fights, snowmen and sled riding. Bless you, Mayor Lindsay.

As I entered adulthood, I still enjoyed the snow. That pure virgin-white coating would create such a beautiful landscape, whether in Levittown, where we owned our first home, or at our present address in Sayville. I was not above going outside with my two boys to build snowmen, throw snowballs, engage in some good old tomfoolery or go sled riding at the Village Grange on Broadway Avenue.

Even shoveling never fazed me. After all, I was young and strong. During a major storm, I would go outside to shovel every two or three hours. That way, I didn't have to shovel 20 or so inches at once. My wife would sit on the couch drinking hot cocoa and looking at me as if I were nuts. She was probably right, but I found it strangely exhilarating.

I would commute on the Long Island Rail Road to my job in lower Manhattan if the weather allowed. I always enjoyed the amazed looks of colleagues who figured that there was no way I could possibly get there. Almost like, "You made it in from the hinterlands?"

Many people who live in the five boroughs think Sayville is the backwoods. Anyway, I loved telling them it was no big deal.

As I got older, however, I gradually sensed a change in my attitude. The pure virgin snow was still lovely, but within days it would become an ugly gray. The slushy ice would get into my shoes and the cold would be like an electric shock from my toes to the top of my head.

The commute has become a source of irritation. Instead of toughing it out and getting my butt to the office, I have become more inclined to sit up in bed, glance out the window, lie back down, roll over and punch the pillow as I go back to sleep.

 

So what happened? I am older and perhaps now I feel all of my 58 years. The aches and pains of shoveling are more tangible. The kids are older and there is no one to play with anymore.

I still appreciate the beauty of a newly fallen snow, but have less patience with winter in general. Maybe I'm acting my age. But that doesn't mean I don't occasionally think of my old Flexible Flyer and what fun it would be to fly down the hill at the Village Grange.

Reader Jerry Giammatteo lives in Sayville.

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