Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Long Walk on a Snowy Day Long Ago

My wife Allyne is a keeper in more ways than one -- most importantly, of course, as a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother: "Big Mama" to the whole family. And she's kept me around for nearly 52 years, which indicates an amazing degree of tolerance and patience. But she is a keeper in another way in that she preserves family treasures that some of us would-be de-clutterers might be inclined to shred or toss.

So it was that she deposited on my desk while I was at exercise class a yellowed copy of the weekly what's-happening-in-Virginia column I wrote for the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer from my editorial-page perch at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The subject was a snowstorm that deposited nearly 15 inches of snow on the capital city of the Old Dominion. The date of the column was Sunday, February 25, 1979.

Here is an excerpt:

...Many workers deemed to be part of 'essential services' had to hoof it a considerable distance to work, either by design or after their cars got stuck. A newspaperman engages in some self-flattery by placing himself in that indispensable category.

How else but with his product, he reasons, would subscribers start their fireplace blazing or dry their boots?

So this is written from the viewpoint of one who walked one mile through virgin snow to get to a bus stop, and then, seeing no bus, walked another four miles along the bus line just for the sheer joy of it.

Yes, joy. There is something exhilarating about walking down the middle of a usually busy street under 'crisis' conditions with motor vehicles seldom being encountered.

The snow scenes, like something out of Currier and Ives, are beautiful, of course. But beyond that, being able to get from here to there under one's own power despite the weather is a confidence builder.

...Snow paralyzes our mighty transportation system only a few days or, at most, a few weeks a year. But because of Iran and other dark clouds on foreign horizons, it may not be too far-fetched to suggest that the almost-blizzard of '79 may have offered a sampling of a whole new way of life soon to come....

I was a mere tenderfoot of 37 when I wrote about walking to work right down the middle of Broad Street in fairly deep snow. Almost 40 years have gone by, and I am every bit the walking enthusiast now that I was then. Senior years bring challenges more formidable than a snowstorm, but that is why it is important to keep putting one foot after the other. And the joy is all the greater when you have a loyal dog trekking with you.

                                                   © Robert Gray Holland  (2018)


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