Elsa and Rudy, post-Blizzard ’13


IMG_6967I hope you don’t mind the attitude, but I’m feeling just the teensiest bit triumphantly badass this morning.

My Massachusetts pride is partially restored.  I remember back when we had real snow, when my dad, in the Blizzard of ’78, had to get to the hospital on cross-country skis to deliver a baby because the roads were totally impassable. (He’d had the good sense to alert the state police before he left the house, and might even have died when he got hopelessly disoriented in the woods but for their headlights shining from Route 2.) Here’s the thing about being from one of those somewhat (but not entirely) bush-league central New England states: you’re always just one measly snowfall from a little respect. Being from “Mass,” you always feel like you could have been a contender. You’re just a wintery degree or two from being taken seriously as a snow state and you’re always longing for a few crumbs of recognition from those maddeningly hardy Big Woods folks – who only live a couple hours away, okay? But they always act like they are just so much stronger and more sensible, more self-assured and more competent than we “Massholes” are. They probably “act” this way because they are, in fact, much stronger and more sensible, more self-assured and more competent. (Annoyingly modest, too. Recall the complete absence of hysteria after Hurricane Irene devastated Vermont last year.)


When I’m in Vermont, I often feel embarrassed by my — what’s the urban version of a ‘rube’? – city-mouse ways. As soon as I hit I-89, a feeling of “learned helplessness” overtakes me and I start waving my white surrender flag the instant something goes even potentially awry. Go ahead, ask me about anything ruralish. Clearing brush? Black bear management? Cold zone gardening? Well water? Septic systems? Tapping trees? Nada. This is what I currently know: zilch. I am an anti-survivalist. Despite my earnest wish to be reincarnated as a pioneer girl, I know deep in my heart I would have been quickly culled living in another era. (My extreme myopia alone would have been the death knell.)IMG_6919

I have no idea when it’s safe to skate on my pond. I don’t how my generator works. I fear a tree will collapse on my kitchen. Etcetra. My Vermont friends are busily clearing trails and tending lifestock and splitting firewood for the next century (in addition to their ‘regular’ jobs as doctors and realtors and architects and carpenters) while, meanwhile, life in the Republic of Cambridge feels so unbelievably puny and trifling by comparison… Most days, I mean. BUT NOT TODAY!IMG_6972


About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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10 Responses to White-out

  1. Walter Crockett says:


  2. Dear Erika:

    This article is LMAO fantastic! I have two references for you: Diane Keaton in “Baby Boom” who leaves her posh job as “tiger lady” in a New York advertising company to buy a fixer upper apple farm in Vermont and loses her mind. Luckily Sam Shepard who plays the country vet gives her a spin or two around the local dance hall to make her feel like a human being again. Also, Garrison Keillor’s book, “In Search of Lake Wobegon” on page 24, “Winter is crucial (in Minnesota). It’s what makes us different from other people and from what we know of other people, we are grateful for this. Winter keeps them out. As it is, we get a few of those people coming here, but if we didn’t have winter, we’d be so overrun with other people, we’d become other people ourselves. And everyone knows that hot weather is not conducive to intelligence. Look at Texas.”

    Bahahhhaaaa! Have a nice day! Liz+

  3. Thanks, Liz. I love that Keillor quote, especially, “Winter keeps them out.” And are you suggesting Sam Shepard might be in my future?! LOL! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Dennis Liu says:

    Great piece, Erika! BTW, when did you get a Rhodesian Ridgeback?!? Charlize says hello, and would love to introduce our RR, Maggie. Maggie did a fast sprint down the driveway and a giant leap into a snowbank… and sank up to her ridge. Took a few boings to jump out!

    • Great to hear from you!Please give Charlize a big hug. I always love getting your Christmas news. Elsa is a “ridgeless” ridgeback but I definitely see some kind of ridge on her back when she’s running fast or feeling excited about something. Would love to see you guys again some time and meet Maggie, too.

  5. Gosh I’m jealous ! I haven’t had snow that deep since I was a baby in Edmonton and we made mini igloos and chairs out of them!

    • Sounds like fun! I always loved the feeling of lying down in the snow when I was little (bundled up, of course). It felt oddly warm and made me want to live in an igloo. 🙂

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