Friday, March 3, 2017

Take the High Road

I don't care how old parents get, it seems like they never lose their omnipotence.

Driving to the Northern Neck this morning, I'm listening to Cults' "Static" album, a 2013 gem that fuses their '60s-esque pop sound with '80s-era gloom and malaise, an exquisite combo when used to convey lyrics alluding to the couple's romantic breakup. The sky is gunmetal gray and the angular music mirrors it.

Just about the time I hit downtown historic Tappahannock, the sky begins pouring snow - big, fat flakes of snow that are soon obliterating and blurring sight lines. As I ease onto the bridge, I also ease into full-on whiteout conditions.

Instead of 45 mph, everyone is crawling over the bridge at 25. On the other side, a couple of 18-wheelers have pulled to the shoulder of the road, unwilling to attempt any more driving until the blizzard passes.

And hyperbolic as that sounds, this really feels like a snowstorm with intent.

Just as I'm cresting the hill near Warsaw in the blowing snow, I look to the left and to my complete surprise, there's blue sky and puffy cumulus clouds off in the distance. It's like being at the beach and spotting a black thunderstorm raining down on a deserted beach a half mile away while your part of the beach is bone dry and sunny.

By the time I turn on to Route 3, the blizzard suddenly becomes no more than snow flurries and as I continue toward my parents' house, back-lit snow flurries. It's magical and totally weird at the same time. With less than five miles to Mom and Dad's, the sky is completely clear and the roads are dry and they remain that way all the way to their house.

It's almost like I dreamed the whole blizzard, but at least it'll be a great story to share. My Dad, especially, loves a good weather yarn, so I'm all but busting at the seams when I arrive to share how my road trip became a weather adventure.

I go for full drama by walking in and announcing that I'd have been there far earlier, but the blizzard slowed traffic to a crawl.

My Dad, sitting in his big, black leather chair and consumed with the Washington Post crossword puzzle until I'd arrived, looks up, pushes his reading glasses up on his head and sweetly asks, "Oh, the blizzard in Tappahannock?"

If I were a kid, I'd have asked how he knew so much and he'd have responded, "Years of experience," but I'm an adult so I asked how he knew that and he said, "A warning just scrolled across the bottom of the TV."

What ho, I'd driven through a storm worthy of TV-level warnings? I may not have gotten the satisfaction of initially informing them about the blizzard, but at the very least I was able to provide anecdotal evidence.

Later while we were sitting in the breakfast room eating lunch, a mini-blizzard began a show in the three windows around us, much to their amazement and not at all to mine. In no time at all, the sun appeared from the south and the snowflakes grew lighter, then big again and then disappeared entirely.

After lunch and helping Mom sort through half-full, crusty paint cans dating back to the '90s, I do the only logical thing I could think of on a two-blizzard day.

I go out into the yard and cut every daffodil and jonquil I can find - probably close to 3 dozen - to bring inside, put in a ceramic vase and leave on the breakfast table for them as snow souvenirs.

Seems like a really bad time to start cutting EPA funding by 24%, but maybe that's just me.

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