Saturday, November 19, 2022

 The Five Stages Of Western New York Lake Effect Grief

Lake-effect snow occurs when dry, freezing air picks up moisture as it passes over a warm unfrozen lake. The lake water evaporates into the air and as it hits land it cools and dumps all the moisture it gathered on the ground in the form of fat heavy wet snowflakes. 

Normally this snow is a bit of a nuisance to the people in the southern part of Western New York (Buffalo and Erie County). But sometimes it can be devastating as it was this past week when it dumped between 3-7 feet in the area. The snow bands typically hover and are very specific. One county over to the north, Niagara County received but a dusting. So while there was a driving ban and all but essential services shut down in Erie County, fifteen minutes away in Niagara County, all the pawn shops and Meth labs were fully operational. 

There’s a certain amount of mental cognition and processing that must occur to keep a positive healthy outlook through such a devastating weather event. Though I have no certifications or official training, as a lifelong resident of Erie County I think I am more than qualified to address the five steps of lake effect grief.

The Five Stages Of Western New York Lake Effect Grief

  1. Denial.

Middle of November  

And the always too bright

The always too chipper 

Local weather person with white capped teeth

Says prepare thy snow throwers

Extract thy snow shovels from the garage rafters

Lake Effect devastation is upon us

You call bullshit

Say these forecasts are wrong as much as they are right

You laugh sardonically and say if only I had a job

Where I wasn’t penalized for being wrong half the time

  1. Anger.

But deep down you know these

White capped tooth bastards are right

They’re always right about the lake effect

This is fucking Buffalo . . .

When the call comes from your Florida friend

Who tells you with a chuckle to be careful shoveling

Because you’re a lot closer to seventy than thirty

It takes great strength to not blow him up verbally

And you secretly hope the next Florida hurricane

Takes out some roofing or a satellite dish at his house

Or does some other minor damage 

  1. Bargaining.

As the heavy wet flakes swirl relentlessly

For hour upon hour and pile up on the ground  

You pray to God for mercy

After all you are closer to seventy than thirty

And you promise that

You’ll really try to listen to your wife’s work stories

You’ll put the seat down and put away the dishes

You’ll quit threatening to throw all her junk out

You’ll stop stalking high school girlfriends on Facebook

You'll go to bed before proving everyone on Twitter wrong

But alas . . .

It keeps snowing and snowing and snowing

  1. Depression.

Having failed to receive any of God’s grace 

You know what needs to be done 

And listlessly affix the air pods, boots, hat, gloves and coat

Of course, last year’s gas is still in the snowblower 

And the fucking thing won’t start

You grab a shovel and try to listen to

Thomas Pynchon's, “The Crying of Lot 49” 

But you understand it even less

Now that you’re closer to seventy than thirty

But you soldier on one shovel full at a time

And are reminded of not being able to leave the dinner table

Until you ate your brussel sprouts one mouthful at a time

Mom could be such a hard ass

  1. Acceptance

One shovel full at a time you move the wet white mud

It hurts your melancholic head and your declining body 

Because, after all you are closer to seventy than thirty

But soon a path forms, widens and reaches an end point

You feel the muscle memory return Your breathing evens out and your core tightens

That Robyn Hitchcock song “Meat,” makes you dance a little

Starting to feel it, you give a thumbs up to your scary neighbor 

Who has all the pro-gun signs on his lawn as he digs his truck out

Suddenly you have your stroke back and you’re flicking snow

Like Tiger hits it three-hundred, like Josh throws it seventy

Though there’s still lots to do, it’s alright, you know you’ll make it

With ibuprofen . . . and bourbon



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