It was a cold, terrific quiet. To my right and left, a rolling scene of frozen hills and valleys. There were mounds of ice where cars should have been and the slushy remnants of the sidewalks were crunchy with an unsuccessful layer of sand. The only breach in the endless white was the neon orange straw that stood askew in the cup that I held.
Two of my roommates and I had braved the post-Juno tundra on Monday afternoon for Boston’s favorite coffee chain. After three snow days in less than seven days, though none of us would admit it, we were all beginning to resent the close quarters of our forced triples. As the campus busses had stopped running hours earlier, and the majority of the green line was experiencing “severe” delays, we had few other options to quell our cabin fever than the treck to Dunkin’ Donuts. Our Bean Boots slipped on gritty paths, passing the beige brick of dorm buildings. Shortcutting behind St. Ignatius, we trudged through the snow finally emerging on Commonwealth Ave., a street-cross away from our destination.
Even more terrifying than the ice-blanketed street, still unplowed from the morning snowfall, was the complete absence of anyone or anything else besides my panting roommates and me. No cars, no people. No dog walkers, no brave joggers, No Green Line trains, no rushed commuters. Where were the giddy freshman walking to CityCo for red solo cups? Shouldn’t I have heard honks and screeching brakes, typical of the Boston driver? Commonwealth Ave. was empty, save three, bundled-up barely teenagers and what was left of long-passed tire tracks.
Extending from Newton, through Brighton and Back Bay, and over the Charles, Commonwealth Ave. is one of Boston’s most trafficked routes. Constantly buzzing with everyone from commuters to tourists, the street is a city staple—making its utter emptiness all the more jarring.
I stepped out, without caring to look both ways, into the road’s icy puddles. I could have sat down in the middle of one of the city’s busiest streets, could have laid down, The Notebook-style, and made snow angels along the route of the Newton Bus. The “BC Biddie” in me even thought to stop and take a picture, but the biting cold that numbed my fingers and cheeks hurried me through the flurries to the sanctity of a free Hazelnut Latte (courtesy of Dunkin’ after the Patriots win the night before).
A New England storm can create a lot of commotion—canceling classes and public transportation—but surprisingly enough the Juno/Linus combo was able to cause as much placidity as pandemonium.
Apart from the obvious potentials for hazard, the recent Nor’Easters have been able to accomplish an underlying sense of community throughout the city. We are in a sense stranded together; all entrapped in the warmth of homes, apartments, and dorms, admiring the ever-falling inches outside our windows.
Our hearts go out to the neighbors and friends shoveling their cars out of each individual avalanche. I have shared more smiles with sporadic strangers in the past week than ever, each silently chuckling over our shared affinity for layers and a good pair of mittens. We can all relate to shoes coated in salt residue, to noses permanently pink from the wind.
Coming from the D.C. suburbs, both blessed and plagued with seasons not nearly as tumultuous as those of Chestnut Hill, all a good snowstorm can manage at home is an empty dairy department at the grocery store and a slew of anxious soccer moms—maybe a two hour delay if the middle schoolers wore their pajamas inside out the night before. The Hub, however, manages to have some of its most hallowed moments amongst snow plows and student-made igloos. On Monday and during Juno last week, I was reminded that Boston can be beautifully stagnated by snow.
Featured Image by Arthur Bailin / Heights Editor