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Banbury Cross

a pillow for lost thoughts...

Post details: The Winter Takes All

The Winter Takes All

This winter just keeps on wintering.

Not so long ago, a rogue December snowstorm dropped 20 inches on DC and we thought we had experienced history in the making. Little did we know what was coming down the atmospheric pike. Nobody saw the frozen tsunami until it hit the celestial ice shredder. Now, 2 blizzards, 30 inches and 4 snow days later, it is clear that this winter will be the snowiest on record. Ever.

Three days ago a friend of mine sent me a short message complaining about the snow's unwillingness to melt speedily and opined that clearing 6 inches of snow four times would be much easier than facing all 24 that were dumped on her (and her driveway) in one lump sum. I told her that my view was exactly the opposite. I would take the full 24 inches over the four easy installments any day.

The thing is that dealing with 2 feet of snow gives you the extra strength that comes from engaging in a fight of cosmic proportions. Think Star Wars on Ice. Even as I had to extricate my car from a deep snow drift twice within one week, I felt that every dig of my shovel made me part of history. A face off with a snowstorm of such epic magnitude arouses deeply embedded survival instincts worthy of Hemingway's pen. It is the classical Man versus Nature thriller. On the other hand, removing six inches of snow four times is but a repeated nuisance, a vexing toil. Nothing to write home about. You can't count that as a heroic endeavor. Being a rowdy bar bouncer four days in a row is not going to make you into a war hero the same way a day spent on a battlefield front line does. So there.

When the first wave of the flurricane passed by, I was thinking about an appropriate way to celebrate this momentous white siege. At first, I placed 3 fresh snowballs in my freezer to be tactically launched from my balcony on a hot July weekend. That didn't seem to be festive enough for the occasion though. So next I sent an email to one of my friends challenging him to a game of tennis at a nearby public court. He thought I was joking. But when I laid out for him the unique photo op of serving over the snowed in net, he agreed.

Who would have thought that walking to a tennis court could be a trekk worthy of Roald Amundsen. On Sunday afternoon, we gathered in a parking lot and set on our way. Snow was thigh deep and pristine, the skies perfectly cloudless, and the familiar public park turned into a laconic verse of Siberian poetry. A scenery Doctor Zhivago might have relished. But the strenuous trip was well worth the effort. The court looked surreal and although we had to stork step our way around it, practicing a diving backhand into the deep drifts was a snow owl hoot and brought about a welcome addition to my hitting repertoire. We both took a couple of serves for the camera, and after our clothes got unseasonably cold and wet, we hurried back home.

So that was the day when I finally figured out why they call tennis a white sport.



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