Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Very Merry (Derby) Blizzard: Snowmageddon

Baltimore typically doesn’t get all that much snow during the winter; we usually have a few 3-to-5 inch snowfalls, with several of those causing school and government closings, but this year has been different. After four snowfalls, including one that caused us to cancel our inaugural bout of 2010, Baltimore has clocked 63 inches so far this winter – more than Chicago, Buffalo, and Carribou, Maine. Nearly EVERYTHING is closed.

You’d think this would have us Baltimorons depressed, but not so! If there’s one thing I love about this city (there’s actually many things), it’s that snow = party. During the first blizzard this week the news stations were showing people in every neighborhood partying in the streets: sitting in lawn chairs drinking frozen rum drinks, buzzing around on 4-wheelers, and participating in massive, MASSIVE community-organized snowball fights (that they were announcing on the news, no less).

I’m lucky enough to live several houses away from my teammates, Allie B. Back and Deathany, and about 2 miles from one of our good friends and Indian food bout vendor, John of Dharma Foods, so the four of us and my boyfriend, J, have been participating in the snow fun here in Baltimore together. During the first blizzard we had this week we decided we’d do what we did the previous weekend when the bout was cancelled and head to mens derby-owned bar, Bad Decisions, for hot drinks followed by sledding at Patterson Park. Although practice has been cancelled all this week, we’ve been getting our exercise walking up steep hills after sledding down them. I even have derby sympathy bruises from the saucer sled cutting into my thighs after having traveled downhill on my stomach.
I love sledding at night. The previous week we were the only people at Patterson Park, but this time there were already other neighborhood folks there. Positioning ourselves next to the illuminated pagoda, people stood beer in hand, watching their friends take turns sliding downhill on sleds and beer boxes, dogs galloping through the snow with ears flapping to chase them down. If you had a good run, you could go pretty far downhill, carving a new path for the next person. Thigh-deep in fresh, untouched snow, it was hard to ignore the silence at the bottom of the hill, as you looked upward to see people and pets laughing and having fun against the warm lights of the pagoda. It took several minutes to walk uphill, but that didn’t stop us – it was totally worth the effort to jump on the sled and head downhill again, snow spray blinding you temporarily and numbing your face as you go.

The next day J, Allie, and I headed to Herring Run Park with our dog, Calvin. Avoiding trees and the river, we sledded alongside neighbors and their children, taking helmet-cam footage of several runs that you can see here (including one where I damn near hit a tree head-on).

The day after that I spent all day with my neighbors shoveling the still unplowed street, preparing for the next storm. What started as a joined effort in snow removal quickly became cocktail hour, as bottles of liquor and beer started appearing and piling up in the snow bank next to my car, plastic lawn chairs surrounding the “bar”. One thing I love about snow is the time you get to spend with your neighbors that you otherwise don’t get to see! It took eight of us all day to shovel the street in front of my house (with a break to push a car out of our street), and even though we accomplished a lot, it really felt like more party than work (until I needed an Epsom salt bath later that night to soothe my sore and torn muscles).
Last night marked the beginning of blizzard number two, which is still going strong now. Having a shitload of food left over that he had made for the bout that got cancelled, John suggested we have a dinner party – a wonderful idea! We dined on cheese and crackers, veggies and hummus, samosas, falafel, and rice-and-cheese filled phyllo triangles, ending the night after watching two movies with a coconut key-lime pie I threw together. Mmmm…

At this point, it looks like we’re not getting out until Saturday or Sunday. I foresee more sledding, more shoveling, more eating and drinking, and more time spent with neighbors and friends. As much of a disruption as these storms have been to daily life in Baltimore, I’m really glad we got this collective opportunity to slow down, break the monotony of the rat race, spend some quality time with others, and entertain ourselves without the usual avid consumerism. I think it’s just what Baltimore needs.

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