Monday, November 1, 2010

nugget #9

This is an piece I wrote shortly after October 13, 2006.  We in Buffalo awoke to two feet of heavy, wet snow, that combined with the fact the trees here still had their leaves on, made for quite the mess.  Most trees suffered major damage from the heavy snow taking down branches, and sometimes whole trees.  The area lost thousands of trees, streets were blocked, and almost everyone lost power for days, if not weeks.  Thus, the following story.

The Big Lie
By Bill Donnelly

            As you read this article, the thoughts of snow and the cold of winter cannot be far behind you, nor is the vision of the coming winter not so distant.  That’s because we live in Buffalo, and let’s face it, winter is one very long season here.
            Have you ever heard Buffalonians declare they would hate to live in a city like Los Angeles because the weather is too predictable, and that such a climate would become boring?  Yeah, right!  Like who could possibly handle 85 degrees and sunshine almost every day of the year.  I’m always hearing denizens of our fair city (and I plead guilty to doing this) say that they enjoy all the different seasons, and would never want to live elsewhere, and besides, we do not have to deal with all the natural and unnatural disasters other locales have to put up with.
            First off, let’s examine the part about natural disasters we do not have to deal with.  This is true, and I will now list the typical events we read about and explain why we in Buffalo do not suffer from them.  Let’s start with some that hit around the vicinity of Los Angeles.  Foremost are the wild fires, and we do not have these because all the snow we have almost year round helps suffocate them before they can start.  And how about those pesky mudslides?  Why, mud can’t slide if it’s frozen.  No threat of tsunamis because Lake Erie is usually frozen, thus no tidal waves.  The earthquakes that cause tsunamis and other destruction can’t happen because the ground is too frozen to crack.  And finally, what of Paris Hilton?  Why, she would never visit here, and I have this on good authority, because she would never be caught dead wearing long-johns, let alone underwear, so she is one of those unnatural disasters we never have to fear.
            Other natural disasters we do not get include floods (if we get six feet of water covering our city, it slowly melts causing little damage), hurricanes (we actually do get these, we just call them blizzards), and tornados (like Paris Hilton, ever hear of a tornado wearing long johns?).  So fine, we do not suffer these natural disasters, but we are way too cold to care.
            Now to the big lie, which is that we all enjoy the different seasons we get in Buffalo.  Oh really now!  What about spring, which is almost non-existent here, and what we do get is cold and rainy.  Summer, especially for runners, is usually too hot and humid.  Fall is nice, except when those beautiful colored leaves come down still attached to the tree branches under two feet of snow.  And as for winter, let’s face it; winter is just too darned long around these parts.  The old joke that Buffalo has only two seasons, winter and July 4th, is just not that far from the truth.  After all, how many months of the twelve can we get snow around here?
            I know, I’ll go through the month’s one at a time to figure this out.  We’ll start at the beginning with January.  I feel safe to say we would all agree that we can expect cold and snow during this frigid month.  I remember running in January Back in the Day when I was training for my first Boston in 1974.  In those days I ran my 16 miles a day no matter what.  Neither snow, freezing rain, blizzards, my girl friend, Eleanor, nor time of day could stop me from getting my oh so many miles in.  At that time in my life I made my living as a substitute teacher.  Not much of a living in that, so in 1974 I also worked picking up and delivering tax forms for 24 offices of a tax preparing firm that shall remain nameless, but whose initials are H&R B.  This endeavor would take me four hours, so on days I also taught (or at least survived the kids) I would not get home till eight at night.  Yet running I would go.
            I would spend no time stretching in those days, but by the time I put on seven layers of cotton shirts and sweats, and four layers of long johns and sweatpants, usually with some old socks pinned inside the front of the pants to prevent frost-bite to certain delicate body parts (THANK GOODNESS for modern protective running wear), it would be 8:30 before I was out the door heading for eight laps around the Delaware Park Meadow (which we call Ring Road now).  I remember that January night I first did this clearly, for it was bitter cold, with no wind or clouds.  Heading around the park with the snow crunching beneath my Tiger Bostons, I was totally alone with only my daydreams of winning the Boston Marathon to keep me going.
            Just as I was passing by the zoo near Colvin, the nearby howl of a wolf shook me to my soul, for even as a boy growing up on the prairies of Minnesota, I had never heard such a terrifying sound, for wolves were long gone there.  What a noise it was, and what feelings it leaves one with when one is not expecting it.  My next lap was probably the fastest I ever ran, and I was probably wondering how I would clean my long johns later.  Yes, there is nothing like those cold dark nights of January.
            Next we look at February.  It doesn’t snow a whole lot in this month because even snow knows not to come out when it’s so cold.  The Seneca Indian words for February are “scajacquada ana keemosabe”, which when literally translated means “the moon when even a horse’s pitoot knows to stay in the wigwam or casino to stay warm.”
            March is just the most depressing month of them all.  The temperature finally starts to get above freezing, but this is usually accompanied by freezing rain.  Then you get a real glimmer of hope when you have a warm breezy day of 65 degrees, only to be followed by a day with a howling snow storm, which is nature’s way of reminding you winter is long from over.
            April showers are often in the form of snow, and the only really warm day a Buffalonian will see is if he or she is running the Boston Marathon, and then you have a 50% chance of roasting in the heat of a sunny hot day. And here comes May, and one hopes for no more snow.  But wait, I seem to remember coming to Buffalo the first weekend of May back in 1989 in order to watch my brother Tom run in the Buffalo Marathon.
            Tom was in particularly good shape for this marathon, having trained under the direct guidance of Jeff Galloway back before Jeff dumbed down his training advice to reach a wider, more lucrative audience.  Tom and the others he trained with were doing up to 13 one-mile repeats at a pace, and they had as long as 30 mile runs, hitting the 26 mile mark at 2 hours and fifty-six minutes.  Tom was truly ready to try and conquer what to him was the most sought after trophy, the coveted Donnelly Cup, which goes to the Donnelly with the fastest marathon time.  Tom hated that I held it, and even though Tom’s PR of was a full half-second per mile slower than mine, he had unrealistic dreams of glory for that marathon in 1989.  Unfortunately for Tom, Buffalo’s own Mother Nature has a sick sense of humor, and had other plans for Tom.
            Tom awoke that May morning to find close to six inches of wet, sloppy snow on the marathon course.  No one ran well that day, and Tom was no exception, for his legs tightened right up from the snow he had been kicking onto his tights, and he dropped out after the half-way point, having realized his dream of ever owning the Donnelly Cup was forever dashed.  His six year old son Paul looked at the anguish and disappointment on his dad’s face, and even at such a young age, he understood and vowed then and there to some day try to wrest away the cup from his Uncle Bill, and he started on the quest when he ran his first marathon a couple years ago in a time of 2:49.  He has hit the low since then, and yes, he has a long way to go, but he may be able to overcome some great obstacles, such as having inherited his dad’s running ability.  You see, he is related to me too, and he just may have gotten some of my superior, more talented running genes passed on to him if he was lucky enough.
            So much for May.  June can be a fair month, and so far as I can remember, there is no snow during it.  July and August just get too hot and miserable, and we start looking fondly towards the cooler months of winter, when we get to take a vacation to Florida to escape the cold.  These months are tough to run in, and you start to hear runners talking fondly of running in the cold because it is easier to dress for cold running than it is for hot and humid training.  September can have some hot days, however it is usually quite pleasant, but we have in the back of our minds that October is just around the corner.
            And we all have a different feeling for October now, especially after our “Ach du lieber Surprise” a couple years ago when we woke up on Friday the 13th to two feet of snow, which looked like double that since it was on top of two feet of downed tree pieces parts.  So we can all agree that we can see snow in October.  November is a lot like March, in that we do get snow, but more often than not, we get freezing rain, which makes us runners wish for snow.  It’s just easier and more comfortable to run in snow.
            Finally we get December, and everyone starts dreaming of a white Christmas.  Bah, humbug I say!  By then I’ve already had enough of the white stuff, and we still have months more of it to go.  I would take a green Christmas any day, and I bet Santa would too.  Notice he doesn’t live in Buffalo.  I hear he thinks it is too cold and snowy.  He’ll take the good old North Pole, thank you very much.
            So let’s recount.  Hmmm, let’s see, oh, THAT WOULD BE EIGHT MONTHS OUT OF THE TWELVE WE CAN GET SNOW!!!  It’s just too long!!  Maybe one week of snow would be enough, no, let’s make that two days.  The rest of the days could be sunny, dry and 85 degrees for all I care.  Gee, maybe I should move to Los Angeles.  Oh, but what about those natural disasters?
            I hate to break it to you Buffalonians, but we are not totally safe from them.  The History Channel has been running a series along the lines of what if a certain type of disaster hit specific cities or areas.  I’ve seen the one about if a category 5 hurricane were to hit New York City.  Then there’s the one about what it would be like if a huge tsunami were to hit the west coast and Los Angeles.  Well, I hear the have a show in the works to be shown next December entitled: “Disaster: What if Paris Hilton moved to Buffalo!”  NOOOOOOO!!!  


No comments:

Post a Comment