The big snow is among the rituals of life on Long Island. Cherished by some, dreaded by others. For school kids and some adults, it’s a welcome break from routine, a chance to stay home for a day and frolic outdoors, or kick back and enjoy the cozy warmth of home while the white stuff piles up outside.
For others, it’s the hassle of impassable or closed roads, stalled or canceled trains and buses, downed power lines, beach erosion and street flooding, and aching backs and muscles from the effort to clear the powder from steps, sidewalks and driveways.
But as Long Island renewed its acquaintance with the big snow Monday, this storm was a little different, as befits the strange times in which we live.
The flakes piled up as they always do, driven and sculpted by the wind as they always are, offering the vistas they always construct of nature at its most beautifully wondrous, the snow crowning atop bushes and trees and fences and roofs.
But many of us who were cooped up inside have been cooped up inside for months now, as a viral storm has swept the region. Instead of getting the day off from school, some kids switched to virtual learning, continuing the toggling they’ve been doing this school year. Some simply stayed on the computers on which they’ve studied every day. And many adults continued to commute as they have been — from the breakfast table to the new office they fashioned in the basement, bedroom, kitchen or den. And not once did they have to worry about a road being closed or missing a train connection — unlike our essential workers, whose way home after providing for the rest of us was in many cases not easy.
For the daily homebound among us, this snow day was just another day, one day before Groundhog Day, a bit of timing that was pretty perfect. Because there are elements of our lives that seem to repeat without end, each of us a Bill Murray trapped in our daily monotony.
The snow day was another day of difficulty delivering vaccines to the most vulnerable. Another day of rising death counts. Another day of sparring between and within our major political parties. Another day of being hunkered down without even the option of running out for a pizza. Another day of not seeing many of our friends and loved ones.
The governor declared it a state of emergency — well, we’ve been there, for more than 10 months now.
When the storm pulls away and the roads are cleared and the power is restored and the floodwaters recede and the trains are running, we’ll all be set to resume our lives, still hoping that something different is coming, still craving a way of living more like the one we once knew.
It might be tough to see, especially through window screens blotted by blowing snow. But that brighter future is coming closer, and if we keep our sense of humor and keep shouldering up as we’ve been doing, we’ll get there.
And another snowstorm could arrive next week.
— The editorial board