March 2006

When I was about 4 years old and living in western Massachusetts, I used to play at a park near my house. Among the swings, seesaws and sandboxes was this gigantic slide. It was the kind that had the steps running up alongside of the slide, which was partially covered by a hood over the top third or so of the chute.

The slide was popular. The line up the stairs moved slowly, but the wait was worth it because the time sliding seemed to last for several seconds. When I turned five, we moved far away from the park. I always remembered that huge slide but didn’t return to see it until I was in my 20s. What I found surprised me.

It wasn’t that big. In fact, the slide was smaller than most you’d see at playgrounds. A valuable lesson in perspective. It was I who was small and everything else that was big.

I often wonder today if I’m experiencing the same sort of relativity with snowstorms. In mid-February the Northeast, particularly New York City, was hit with the year’s first big snowfall, causing the usual travel headaches and, of course, the long days and late nights for all of you involved with snow removal.

But it seems like this happened more when I was a young kid back in the late ’60s and early ’70s. There was always snow on the ground with talk of more to come. I remember scaling lofty mountains of snow formed by repeated plowing and these lasted from November to late March. Or so I recall.

I can’t go back to relive the snow days of my youth the way I could revisit the slide, but it does seem like we get less snow than we used to — one or two big snowstorms a season, not counting the lake effect stuff. Or maybe I’m just bigger and it would take 3 ft. of snow to impress me. I don’t know. But my 4-year-old daughter is always pining for snow and I do hope, even though it’s aggravation for me today as an adult, that she experiences as much snow and has much fun in it as I recall that I did. P

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