Tag Archives: snow

A winter walk through Astoria Park

I was taking my dog for a walk through the park last weekend. There was still a ton of snow on the ground, snow that’s become a fixture in my head of what I think of when I imagine the outside world. It hadn’t even snowed in like a week, but there was still so much. Even if it were warm out starting today, and I guarantee there’d still be piles of it everywhere, snow that’s fallen, partially melted, frozen, remelted, all resulting in these giant piles of weird sno-cone like slush.


I kind of got used to seeing the snow mostly confined to the huge piles alongside the sides of the streets. But here in the park it was everywhere. None of the paved paths had been cleared off, and so I kept dancing this way and that, hopping from clean piece of ground to the next, regretting my decision to wear sneakers instead of snow boots.

This winter has been a cold one, and even though I tell myself that I like being outside during the winter, that I enjoy the brisk temperature, I’ve definitely recoiled somewhat. There haven’t been as many outdoor runs as there were last year. And just looking out across Astoria Park, it was giving me the same feeling that I got as a little kid after returning home from a weeklong vacation, everything was familiar, but oddly out of place. It became obvious that feeling that I hadn’t been here in a while.

As I walked along one of the paths, I came across these two parents and their very small children. There was a stroller to the side, so clearly they hadn’t made the little kids walk all the way here. But they were all crouched down around a somewhat clean pile of snow. The little kids had plastic buckets and shovels and it was hard to really describe what they were doing. Is that how little kids play? They just kind of shovel stuff and dump it into buckets?

The whole scene struck as me as crazy, but in a cool way. Like I couldn’t even get myself outside much this winter. But these parents had two kids. That’s got to be a lot more difficult than just forcing yourself to leave the house. You’ve got to get their coats and their boots and make sure that they both go to the bathroom before they leave. And this one kid, the younger one, he definitely had to have been in diapers. What if he decided to pee? Would you have to change him right there in the freezing cold? Or would the diaper freeze against his skin?

And then I’m picturing myself, if I had kids, I’d be standing and watching them just playing with the granular snow. Would I be bored? I mean, I never just go outside and play in the snow. And while there’s that idea that it would be nice to get in touch with my inner child, to go out there and get dirty and make snow castles or whatever, I can’t really see it happening. I’d much rather stay inside on the Internet. But maybe if you have your own kids you like watching them enjoy it, I don’t know.

But then I saw the daughter, she had her bucket overflowing with snow, she threw down the shovel and she grabbed the bucket with both hands. She opened her mouth and slowly brought the bucket up. The mom stopped it from happening, she put her hands on top of the bucket and said, “No. Don’t lick it. OK. No. Don’t.” And the girl put the bucket down and her mom backed off. And then two seconds later that little girl was back at it, she brought it up faster this time, hoping to avoid her mom from stopping her. But no, adults are always faster than little kids, and so I heard that voice as we walked past the family outing now receding in view, “No, honey, don’t eat the snow. OK. We don’t eat the snow. Honey. Baby. OK? No.”

I’m just left with the sounds and images of this world totally foreign to me. What if I have kids and I’m not paying attention and they eat something gross off of the floor? I’ll take them to the hospital after days of violent illness, the doctor will be like, “Did junior here eat anything funny?” And I’ll be like, “Uh … I don’t know.” And the doctor will be like, “Well, it looks like a fair amount of dirt has been ingested. I’ll treat the child while you have a conversation with the social worker about negligence.”

How did we get this far as a species? Why do little kids want to put stuff in their mouths? When is all of this snow going to melt?

Talking about the weather

Every time I find myself in a discussion about the weather, it’s not even like two sentences back and forth when this awareness clicks in my head. Shit, I think, I can’t believe I’m talking about the weather again. And chances are, I’m the one that started the conversation. It’s like, when I’m presented with another human being, there’s something inside of me that does whatever it can to avoid even a quarter of a second from slipping by without a steady stream of words coming out of my mouth.


And so I don’t even realize it, I’m just like, “Wow, can you believe how cold it is outside?” It’s such a cheap trick, because once the topic of weather is introduced, it’s a guaranteed minute and a half to two minutes of pure automatic banter. You don’t have to worry about any awkward pauses or having to think of anything especially clever to say.

No, you make a comment about the weather. Then you wait for whoever you’re talking with to respond, usually it’s something like, “I know, right?” All right you’re both on the same page, you’re both amazed that it’s actually this cold out, even though it’s February. “But the snow! I think we’re getting more snow next week!”

That was me, adding another layer to the veneer of dialogue. I don’t even know where I got that from. I probably just made it up. That’s one thing that I’ve become painfully aware of. Considering all of the nonsense weather related chit-chats I’ve been guilty of initiating, you’d think I’d at least have a dedicated tab in my browser open to some sort of a weather web site, if not several weather related smartphone apps.

But there’s nothing. I never check the weather. You don’t need to. First of all, most of the forecasts are very loose predictions. Anybody remember those three-to-thirty inches of snow we were supposed to get last week? Sure, the science is there to give a prediction of what the weather might look like ten, seven, five days from now, but unless it’s a three-day forecast, it’s probably not going to come true.

Then we finally get to that three-day window, and say something of interest is actually on its way to our area, that’s when everybody starts talking about it. My mom will tell me about snow, or I’ll be in line at CVS and I’ll see everybody in the store buying their weight in rock salt. Again, at this point I could flip open my phone and see what’s what, but why bother? It’s obvious that everybody else has done most of the research on my behalf.

It’s the weather, it just happens. Sometimes it’s raining, most of the time it’s not raining. Unless you live in Seattle, or Ireland, but I don’t, so I don’t even know where my umbrella is unless it’s actually pouring outside and I have to take my dog for a walk.

So you’d think that, considering my awareness of how ridiculous it is to talk about the weather, I wouldn’t be that guy that’s always pulling meteorological half-truths out of his ass. I don’t know why I do it. I’m looking back at my post history here on this blog, and it’s disgusting, at least twice a month I write something about how hot the summer is or how cold the winter is. It’s like I can’t even stand the idea of pause in between blog posts, so I just start babbling away about the temperature, precipitation, or lack thereof.

I’m the guy that makes fun of anybody that dares to ask me, “Cold enough for ya?” on a really cold day, but then I go ahead and ask everybody that I meet for the rest of the season, “Hey, cold enough for ya? Huh? It’s winter. It’s wintertime. It’s cold.” And what if it wasn’t cold? What if this winter were a really warm one?

“Oh man!” I’d talk and babble, “You call this a winter? It’s so warm out! I wish it were colder. I really like snow! I heard something that we’re supposed to get a blizzard in three weeks. Maybe. I think there’s like a one percent chance. I’d better get some rock salt. Do you have enough rock salt? You better get to CVS, I think they’re going to sell out. There’s never enough rock salt. Is the heat on in here? I’m freezing.”

Hey Bill, I can shovel your sidewalk if you want

Dear Bill Simmons:

We just had a pretty big snowstorm here in New York. The night before it started coming down, the news was telling us to expect at least ten inches. And no, I didn’t get out and measure it or anything like that, but it looks like ten inches, I think. It’s a lot of snow, is what I’m getting at here. It’s a powdery type of snow though, not too dense, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to clean up.


Still, snow is snow, and I had to shovel. I actually got a ticket for not shoveling in front of my house the last time it snowed. Yeah, yeah, I know, I have like a million excuses, like I was working both the night of the last snowstorm and the night after. So it was like, I came home from work, I should have just shoveled right away, but I put it off for the next day. And of course I overslept, I was rushing to get ready for the following night at the restaurant. I told myself, tomorrow, definitely tomorrow. But the Department of Sanitation must have been thinking the same thing, tomorrow, we’re definitely giving that guy a ticket tomorrow.

This time around, I made sure, as soon as that last snowflake fell, I was outside with my shovel. As I was shoveling I thought, Bill, wouldn’t it be cool if we were next-door neighbors? I know you’re a busy guy, and so I’d totally get your walk if you were at work or something. I don’t know exactly where your job takes you these days, I mean, I don’t really know where you do your filming for ESPN. You write a lot about how you’re from Boston, but you don’t live there anymore do you?

Maybe if you moved to Queens, right next-door to me, it would be like a rude awakening, it would snow, you’d have to shovel. How long has it been since you’ve had to shovel a walk? Don’t worry about it too much though, I told you, I’d help out. And maybe you’d be walking home just as I was finishing up the path right to your front door. Would we have met yet? Like, maybe you’d have waved to me every now and then on your way out the door. But a conversation?

“Hey man, thanks a lot, I really appreciate the help. I’m Bill, by the way, I know we haven’t gotten a chance for any official introductions, but yeah, thanks again for the shoveling.”

I’d say, “Hey, Bill, no problem, any time man.” And then it would get tricky, because obviously I’d recognize you, you’re a pretty famous guy. But do I want to come across as too eager? Like, “Yeah, I know you, you’re Bill Simmons, you’re the Sports Guy, I read all of your stuff on Grantland, I actually have a blog where I write you a letter every week begging for a job as a full-time writer. Have you seen it? Have you read any of my letters? What do you think Bill, can I have a job?”

It might come off as a little too strong. Still, anything else, like if I pretended not to know who you are, “My name’s Rob. Nice to meet you … Bill? Did you say it was Bill? Or Phil?” and you’d have to reintroduce yourself, “Bill. Bill Simmons.” That’s cool, I mean, it would have the benefit of you thinking that you could let your guard down around me, you’d go to work in the morning, you’d be the Sports Guy, but you’d come home at night and you’d just be regular next-door neighbor Bill, hanging out with his new friend Rob, a nice guy who shoveled his sidewalk, plus the path leading to his door, all out of the goodness of his own heart, not looking for anything in return.

Which of course isn’t really true, which is why I’d hesitate to go down that route. What if we hit it off? What if we became good friends? You’d obviously start to ask me questions like, what do you do for a living Rob? And I’d have to be like, well Bill, since you asked, I’m an aspiring writer. What about you?

And you’d go into your whole, “Really? I’m a writer too. I’d love to look at your stuff.” Which, yeah, that would be great. Please, read my stuff Bill. But then you’d come across these letters, the whole Dear Bill Simmons column, and you’d see that not only did I know who you were all along, but maybe my generous acts of snow shoveling weren’t as selfless as they appeared.

You’d think, is anything that Rob’s said about himself true? I’d try to explain, that yes, I really am a nice guy, and also yes, I desperately want to write for Grantland. “You moving next-door to me, I couldn’t believe the luck, but I didn’t know how to handle the situation. So, I’m sorry Bill, I’m sorry for coming across as disingenuous, but I just really, really want to work for you. And I also really want to be great neighbors. And maybe friends. But we’ll take it slow. What do you say?”

I’m pretty confident that you’d see through to the real me. I’m a nice guy Bill. And although we’ll probably never be next-door neighbors, we could still be coworkers. You could totally be my boss. And while I won’t push the friendship thing, I won’t close the door on it completely. So maybe like after years of working for you, building up a professional relationship, one based on hard work and writing whatever you tell me to write, maybe we can think about being friends. But first things first. Offer me a job Bill. I’ll say yes. Ask me to shovel your walk. I’ll say no. You’ll say, “But I thought you’d do whatever I told you to do.” And I’ll say, “I can’t shovel your walk. Because I already did it.”

I’m for real Bill. Give me a shout. Give me a job. Please.


Rob G.

Snow shoveling, soon

A couple of weeks ago we got a pretty big snowstorm, big for New York anyway. I’m sure the people of Manitoba or Vladivostok have different definitions of pretty big snowstorms, but this was enough that I had to go down to the basement and find the old snow shovel. So yeah, it was snowing, the snow was accumulating, there was a lull, and I went out to dig. And then a few hours later it picked up again, I had to go out again a few hours later, I sprinkled some salt, and I called it a night.snowshove

And then the next day it was this gross, warm rain, everything sort of melted, but not really, the whole city turned into this charcoal gray slush pit. The next day while I was at work, apparently there were a couple more inches of snow still floating around in the clouds, and that eventually made its way to the sidewalk. Then the temperature dropped.

It was so cold that, by the time I made my way home from work at like two in the morning, there was a giant lumpy sheet of ice covering the sidewalk in front of my house. I immediately recognized my civic duty, to at least try to clean this stuff up so that no pedestrians would take a tumble in front of the property, but I was tired, I said to myself, I can do this tomorrow. Besides, I pulled out all of these rationalizations, how I’d already shoveled the day before, twice, how all of that shoveling proved to be a huge waste of time, seeing as how the rain melted everything not even twelve hours later.

I left it. And the next day was even colder, so I left it again. A few of my neighbors had left theirs, I figured, all right, as long as I’m not the only one, whatever, I’ll get to it soon. Which, and at this point in my life, I’m even more than halfway conscious of the fact that whenever I say that I’ll do something soon, it really means that I’ll never do it.

When I got home from work that night, I found that it was just me and this Greek guy next door that were the last two houses on the block that hadn’t even made an attempt to clear out a path. But it was still so cold, I told myself, even if I wanted to shovel right now, I wouldn’t be able to. It was pure ice. I made a plan to do it tomorrow, as soon as the sun was out, maybe there would be a little melting to make everything easier.

And it was significantly warmer the next day. Unfortunately I got up pretty late, late enough that the Department of Sanitation had time to write out tickets for both my neighbor and me. It basically amounted to, you guys didn’t even try to clean up the sidewalk, so pay up, a hundred bucks.

All I could think about was the hundred dollars that my grandfather had just given me for Christmas. Come on, it’s like why does the universe always have to take away just as easily as it dishes out? I had plans for that hundred bucks. Well, not any concrete plans, really. But I did plan on keeping it in my pocket for as long as possible, trying to hold off on spending it until I had no other money left in there, and then I’d break it and I’d use it guilt-free on all sorts of little purchases until there was nothing left.

So I made up my mind to actually attend the hearing and mount a defense. They’ll let me off, I thought in my head as I stood before the city official in charge of hearing these cases, “Come on,” I told the guy, “I’m really sorry. I work nights. It was so cold. This is my first offense. I definitely won’t wait next time.” Halfway through I realized that I probably should have planned out my defense a little better, none of whatever I was saying sounded any better than a little kid trying to weasel his way into explaining to the teacher why he didn’t do his homework the night before. By the time I caught myself about to use my grandfather’s hundred dollar gift as an excuse, I gave up. But not before saying, “The defense rests.” I thought it would be funny, but nobody laughed, and I immediately felt like an idiot.

“Sorry pal,” the guy told me, “Better get up earlier next time.” And that was it. A hundred bucks for Christmas, a hundred bucks to the city for not shoveling my sidewalk. And I’m stuck here thinking, wondering if only I had made up a really good sounding excuse, like if I pretended to have the flu, or if I just left out that idiotic joke at the end, maybe I could have gotten out of it. Whatever, I’m going to buy a ton of rock salt and I’m just going to blanket that stuff outside at the first hint of snow. I’m not even going to let that stuff have a chance to accumulate. That’s what I’m going to do, soon, I’m going to go to the Home Depot and get a better shovel, one with an ice pick on the other side. Definitely soon.

How about global cooling?

I love it when it’s cold out. Even colder. Snow can get to be a nuisance, yeah, especially if you’re wearing really low cut socks, like even though your boots might be waterproof and snowproof, eventually, if the snow outside gets deep enough, it’s going to find its way in there, in between steps, in the space between your pants and your boots, and you’ll feel it, that cold on the insides of your ankles, that spot where the skin is the softest, the most sensitive. And before you even have a chance to take off your gloves, to try and get the snow out, it already starts to melt against your skin. Now you’ve got wet socks. Now you’ve got wet feet, and the wetness is surrounded by a waterproof shell, so there’s nowhere for it to go.

But having said all of that, I think this problem could be easily fixed with, one, maybe some longer boots. And two, maybe like a real pair of winter socks. I actually bought a pair of really tall boots a few months ago, specifically for this purpose, for heading up North, for getting out there and running around in the snow without worries. There was a pair of Ugg boots on sale for less than a hundred bucks on the Internet. I know exactly what you’re already thinking, but they weren’t regular Uggs. They looked cool. They just happened to be made by the Ugg company. But it didn’t matter. Everybody kept making fun of them, the name, the brand. And I always like to think of myself as this enlightened guy who doesn’t care what people say about him, but that obviously has to be a one hundred percent false self-image that I’m carrying around in my head.

Because I wound up caving in to the derision of everybody else pretty quickly. Those boots sat there for two months without being used. Anybody who ever saw them in the corner of the room made fun of me for owning a pair of Uggs. And then it was Christmastime, that magical time of year when you have to spend tons and tons of cash, and so in a moment of weakness I returned them. Damn you Zappos and your ridiculously lenient return policy. How do ever expect to turn a profit? Letting people take all of the time in the world to sit on a purchase, really chew on it, ruminate all of the ways in which a pair of boots could turn sour, and then actually giving them your blessing, please, please let us give you your money back? I never even had a chance to wear them, not even once, because it hasn’t snowed in New York, not yet, not as of the writing of this, whatever this is.

So now, here I am, we took a little mini vacation up North, to the cold, even colder. At least six inches of snow which, I really just don’t get. In New York it hasn’t been that cold for the second year in a row. But all of the sudden we drive three hours North and there’s snow everywhere. It snows like every day up here. And I’m taking my dog for a walk and he’s loving the snow and I’m running around trying to keep up with his crazy dog energy and not even two minutes later, snow meets ankles, ankles meets wet. I’m inside walking around this very warm house, my whole body is warm except for my feet. Once your feet get cold, there’s only one thing that’s going to get them warm again: an absurdly hot shower. And you have to stand in there for like half an hour. And I don’t know about you, my imaginary reader here, all half-dozen of you friends and family members, but my skin goes nuts after too long of a hot shower. I get out and I’m really dry, really itchy.

Anyway, I really do love the cold. I always watch TV shows and movies set in warm places, I watched Dexter, I watched Magic Mike, and I always walk away thinking, man, I need to move somewhere like that, somewhere where I can wear shorts and tank tops all the time, all year. But then I remembered that I spent most of this summer complaining over and over again, on this blog even, about how hot I was, about how the heat was getting me crazy, about how I couldn’t stop sweating.

I’m up here up North and I feel better than ever. Yeah it’s freezing, way colder than it is in New York, but you get cold and you move. You move and your body warms itself up. I’ll go for a run in the summer and not only do I sweat out every drop of liquid that I started out with, but I feel sick, nauseated, like should I be worried? But I went running yesterday. It was like twenty degrees out. The first mile was tough, really cold. But then after that my body got warm, and then it got hot. And then I didn’t need my gloves anymore. And then I started steaming, like my whole body generating and radiating more heat than I even needed to personally stay warm. I could’ve warmed up somebody else probably. I felt great. The cold air coming into my body felt refreshing. I felt like I was conquering nature. I felt like Superman.

But then I came home and took way too long of a shower and scratched myself raw for the rest of the day. Whatever, I’ll always find something to whine about. But just judging on my levels of whining this summer and my complaining so far about this winter, I’ve got to say, hands down, I definitely love the cold. Even better. Even colder. How about we try out global cooling? Let’s bring on another ice age. I’m ready.