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General Interest

THE DAY NEW YORK STOOD STILL

Nothing like a blizzard to let us know that anything we had planned really wasn’t so important that it couldn’t be put off for a day or two. It seems Mother Nature decided that the entire Northeast would look pretty good covered in more than a foot of snow. And she’s right, it is beautiful. New York City is buried in the stuff, elegant white snowdrifts sculpted by the wind into all kinds of lovely shapes. It is breathtaking, and it is truly wonderful.

Of course on TV all the junior reporters who don’t get much camera time are out in force, bellowing about how dangerous this is and what a shock it was, to which one replies, shut up, you idiots, it’s wonderful. As far as it being a shock, well, maybe if this was Honolulu, but it is not Honolulu, it is the northeast of the United States and we get winter weather here, sometimes pretty damned severe winter weather at that. A pleasant surprise, maybe, but no shock.

The kids and the dogs sure love it, and 9 times out of 10, anything kids and dogs love is a good thing. Blizzards seem designed for children, who can spend hours and hours messing around in the snow. And when a blizzard comes, any adult who grew up in a place where it snows automatically gets to touch that part of them that is still the wide-eyed child they were, a priceless gift from Mother Nature. Sure, we’ve got to shovel it, dig the car out and try to go about our business eventually, but who’s to say that a few snowball fights with the kids in the neighborhood is a bad thing?

And if you’re really feeling ambitious, there’s always a bunch of snowmen looking to be freed from the drifts, just waiting for some enterprising kid (of any age or size) to recognize them and bring them to life, just to keep an eye on things for a few days. They’ll melt back into nature after a little while, waiting for the next blizzard when some other imaginative kid brings them back. Snowmen are pretty good that way, very patient and content to visit us when we need them the most, and to make us smile along with them. Has anyone ever seen a snowman and not smiled? Of course not. Who’s better than them?

And so this is The Day New York Stood Still. It happens every so often, maybe once a decade. Fortunately for the huge hustle and bustle contingent in New York City, this blizzard came on a weekend, Saturday night into Sunday, so their hustling and bustling will be only minimally impacted. Hopefully a lot of them got to walk the silent streets on Saturday night, when our beautiful city was even more beautiful, the falling snow and the swirling drifts muffling the strident sounds. Such rare nights are priceless, a life-affirming walk in a vast cathedral, silent, beautiful and uplifting, your every step and movement a living prayer.

On such a walk, one encounter few others, and greets them joyfully but quietly as they pass by, disappearing silently into the drifts on their way to nowhere special, and at the same time in a very special place. The city is still and magic and wonderful. There are spirits out and about on these late night blizzard walks, and they can be felt as palpably as the wind that makes our cheeks blush. Perhaps they are the souls of the snowmen calling to us to let them visit again, or maybe just a wordless and powerful realization of the oneness of all life, and you are humbled and at the same time filled with incredible joy and elation. This is the feeling that tells tells you, yes, there is a God, and he is telling you personally: “Look upon my works in wonder, and know that I can make the busiest place on earth stand still so you can enjoy its beauty and its essence.”  It’s a great day to be alive.

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