On January 2, 2014, at about 10 PM, I took Viva, my new miniature poodle, for her evening walk. Nobody else was about. The street, the lampposts, the houses and even the uncollected garbage were frosted by the season’s first snow. Viva enthusiastically hopped into the fresh rapidly accumulating piles. She is a four-year old rescue from Brazil and may never have experienced snow. I too enjoyed leaving my footprints in the virgin cover. The dog and I made our way to the Brooklyn Promenade and admired Manhattan, whose lights dimly diffused through the mist. On our way back we encountered a snowplow, out to demonstrate that our brand new Mayor de Blasio is as efficient as his predecessor in keeping the streets open.
As a child I loved sledding, building snowmen and enjoyed a good snowball fight. I hated the adults’ denigrating remarks and complaints about the snow, and swore to myself that I was never going to join the ranks of these spoilsports. So far I have kept my word. To me snowstorms demonstrated that nature still could overrule humanity’s mastery of its environment.
New York becomes very human when it is snow bound. We all celebrate the unexpected holidays. Skiers fill Central and Prospect Parks. Emergencies bond people. Neighbors offer to shop for neighbors. I remember a 1950s snowstorm when my husband and I were the only customers dining in the glassed-in veranda of a 72nd Street restaurant, feeling as if we were on a far-away vacation. City streets become deserted, shops and museums are empty and there are seats for sold-out Broadway shows. The beauty of city snow does not last. All too soon it turns into blackened mush or slippery ice and the uncollected garbage becomes an eyesore.
Unfortunately I may have to join the adult world. Nature finally has had enough of man’s interference. Our garbage and carbon emissions are poisoning the atmosphere and unusual weather is becoming the norm. Facts recorded by many agencies, including The Center for Ocean Solutions, demonstrate that the intensity of typhoons and hurricanes is increasing exponentially (Sandy along the Atlantic coast, Haiyan in the Philippines). Overflowing rivers and torrential rains cause disastrous flooding (North Dakota and Nashville). In spite of all the available concrete evidence, politicians as well as many of the world’s people ignore these warnings. So let us temper our enjoyments of nature’s bounty with a reasonable approach to climate change. Let us reduce our personal consumption of gasoline and other pollutants and, even more important, let us elect politicians that support climate control. It is a serious matter.