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Snow Bored

The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia may be over, but here in New Jersey, we’ve been reluctantly participating in our own version of the winter Olympics. There were no try-outs, no pre-qualifying events and no snazzy uniforms. If you live here, you’re automatically recruited for our team.

Mother Nature and Old Man Winter are having a custody battle over the Northeast. We’ve had more than double our average snowfall and the Polar Vortex has dipped into our area for extended visits bringing arctic air. The snow that has fallen can’t melt.  It’s like an unpleasant houseguest that just won’t leave.

I tried making a voodoo snowman to ward off any more snow. Ironically, the following morning, he was covered in a few inches of fresh new snow.

I tried making a voodoo snowman to ward off any more snow. Ironically, the following morning, he was covered in a few inches of fresh new snow.

In an effort to suppress the mounting snow rage and to entertain myself while trapped indoors, I’ve considered all the inconveniences the snow has brought and turned them into Olympic events.

Speed Scraping– When snow has piled up on the car, it’s important to scrape all of it off before driving.  Since we’ve had sub-freezing temperatures and wind chills that would make a polar bear put a coat on, it’s essential to scrape the car as fast as possible. Not only is the speed of scraping the car vital, but so too is the timing of the event. Waiting too long means the car will be encased in a thick coating of impenetrable ice. There is no medal for this event, but individuals with advanced skills avoid hypothermia and frostbite.

The Snow Toss – After 57 inches of snowfall this winter, finding a place to put it all has become a dilemma. The frozen mounds on the sides of our driveway and curb are almost over the top of my 59 inch body. As additional snow accumulates, we are forced to participate in this tandem event. One teammate must push the snow to the side of the driveway with the shovel then the other teammate heaves the snow onto the top of the massive piles. When that becomes too difficult, the heavy shovel full of snow must be taken for a walk down the street to find a smaller pile.To cheer each other on while working, we chant our team motto: we put the shove in shovel.The winners of this event get jumbo sized bottles of Advil and gift certificates for massages.

The Slush Jump – On those rare occasions when there was melting, the snow caused enormous puddles of slush. Being a successful jumper requires athleticism, balance and appropriate attire. Without waterproof boots, we would only be able to make it through the first round. There are no points awarded for style or technique, but to be a champion, we’ll need to fearlessly leap over mushy puddles of varying sizes and stick the landing. There is no medal, but the winner of this event gets to walk away with dry pants.

Skeleton-In the real Olympics, participants in this event get a running start before flopping headfirst onto a sled that hurtles down a track of ice at 80 miles per hour. In our Olympics, we’re more rugged. We walk on patches of ice without the aid of spiked shoes, sleds or the protection of a helmet. If we fall hard enough, we’ll have the opportunity to see our skeletons on the x-rays they take in the emergency room.  The winner of this event leaves the doctor’s office without any broken bones.

The Downhill Mailbox Combined – Our driveway has a bit of a slope and when it’s covered in ice, the mundane task of retrieving the mail becomes a hazardous undertaking. In this multistep event, we carefully slide down the driveway to reach the mailbox. Once we make it to the mailbox without falling,we must carefully extract the mail without dropping any of it into the snow. With each successive storm, the pile of snow dumped in front of our mailbox by the plow has gotten wider adding to the degree of difficulty.  I am now no longer able to participate in this event without the assistance of performance enhancing barbecue tongs which I need to use to extend my reach. The winner of this event manages to collect all the mail and return to the house without winding up inadvertently participating in the Skeleton event described above.

Great care must be taken when walking under these  frozen hazards.

Great care must be taken when walking under these frozen hazards.

Icicle Dancing – This event requires all the agility and elegance of Olympic ice dancing without the music, fancy costumes and judges. With dagger-like ice stalactites dangling from gutters, it is important to have impeccable timing when entering and exiting our home. During the day, we must precisely time our moves to avoid getting a droplet of icy, cold water running down our backs. At night, when the icicles refreeze, it is important to walk without disturbing them lest they fall and impale us.  If we make it into the house without a concussion caused by falling ice, we’re winners.

Pothole Slalom –Anyone driving a car in this part of the country  is forced to participate in this event. Each day the driver must slalom through pothole pocked roadways. The goal is to make it to your destination without dropping into a pothole the size of the Grand Canyon, bending the rims of your tires or cracking your windshield. Slalom skiing in the Olympics allows only one skier to take to the course at a time. Not so with the pothole slalom, the entire field of competition participates at the same time adding to the challenge. Not only do we need to avoid potholes, but we need to avoid hitting fellow motorists when swerving to avoid those asphalt obstacles. In case you think that frequent runs on the course will breed familiarity and give a driver an advantage, there are changes to the course on a daily basis. New craters festoon the course and familiar ones grow exponentially larger. Darkness, sun glare and rain also affect the course making it virtually impossible to accurately judge the depth and width of the gaping holes. There is no prize money or luxury vehicle awarded for this event, but the winner gets to keep her own money and drive off in her own car with four fully inflated tires and unbent rims.

Curling –During this indoor Olympic event players shove a large granite stone down a track of ice. Teammates use modified mops to sweep in front of the stone speeding its journey to the target at the other end. Just like the real Olympics, our curling event takes place indoors. It involves us sweeping up the bits of salt we track into the house on our boots then curling up on the couch. The winner of this event gets a purring cat on their lap.

I’m hoping that spring will come soon and be the closing ceremony to these endless Winter Olympics. Until then, I’m forced to sit inside my house and be snow bored.

Why should almost 2 feet of snow pack prevent Oregano from enjoying the courtyard.

Why should almost 2 feet of snow pack prevent Oregano from enjoying the courtyard?

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

40 responses »

  1. Those icicles look treacherous. I’m sure you’ve all mastered the icicle dancing event. 🙂

  2. I think we’re all ready for the summer Olympics!

  3. Don’t forget the “dash through the intersection and hope you don’t hit anyone because you can’t see over the mounds of snow from the snow toss.”

  4. One of the best yet!!!!! I really can relate because we are up north during this wonderful time of year 🙂

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. “Performance enhancing barbecue tongs.” BEST LINE EVER!!!!

    You nailed the fact that this winter is literally a marathon of survival that requires a variety of skills and athleticism. Read this out loud to the family and we laughed our …… off!!! Thank you for some much needed cheer.

    • I’m so thrilled that the whole Babka family enjoyed the post. We all need some cheer and chuckles. I’m happy I could provide some. This winter has truly been an endurance sport.

      It was Oregano’s idea to add the term “performance enhancing” to my barbecue tongs.

  6. Paprika … Call the Guinness Book of Records. A couple of these events would qualify as winners. Thanks for the laughs. YOU are laughing, right? 😆

  7. Oregano needs his sunglasses to complete the story.

  8. oh Paprika, you had me both grinning and commiserating at the same time. delightfully written. my favourite event here is curling. how clever is that.
    and yet that snow. i just cannot imagine so much of it. it snowed here on Saturday for most of the day and then again on Sunday and Monday, however our accumulations were minimal and i even ventured out to work with my car. i usually take the bus on snow days, since so many cars are still out there with summer tires and it can be quite adventurous to move along nicely only to be blocked by vehicles that are not able to get a move on.
    this is the second snowfall of the season, the first one occuring in mid-December. that one lasted a few days. there were maybe 4 or 5 inches or 10 to 12 cm, as we count it in this corner of the planet) of accumulations here, and it has begun to melt nicely. by the end of the week it should be gone. am rooting for you that yours melts sooooooon too!

    • I’m glad I could make you laugh. I’ve really been trying hard to be good humored about this weather, but it has gotten more difficult with each inch of snow.

      I’m glad your snow is melting. It gives me hope that one day all this white stuff will be gone and replaced by brown mud. At this point, even that would be an improvement.

  9. With yet another storm on the way – I think the “Snow Vault” will become the next event. In this athletic feat, contestants launch themselves off the front porch and see how far out in the snow bank they can land. I’m glad the winter hasn’t frozen your sense of humor!

  10. You know, I’m pretty sure those prizes are NOT worth the effort!

  11. Just when I was lamenting my lost Olympic dream (I begged my parents for ice skating lessons to no avail), your clever piece comes along to let me know I was once an athlete and will be one again soon! I remember speed scraping well … scraping the snow off the windshield as fast as you can, because your gloves aren’t waterproof and you’re dying to experience the warmth of the car. In all liklihood, we’ll be moving back up north this summer. Can’t say I’m sorry I’ve missed the worst winter in decades! Hope you get your long-awaited thaw soon.

    • This is the worst winter I can remember. We’ve had years with a lot of snow and years that were unusually cold, but not both at the same time. At one point, there was so much snow, I thought Oregano was going to need to tie a balloon to me so he could find me outside. Maybe you’ll be the good luck charm and bring some warmth with you when you move up north.

  12. Just living a few hours from you, I have participated in all these games….reluctantly. We had a light dusting this morning (isn’t it funny when dusting means snow and not cleaning?) and I’m not amused. Old man winter is going to get a shovel up his…….

  13. Excellent! You get a gold medal for writing! One of my other favorite events is peering around huge piles of snow at every intersection while I’m driving. I also love trying to open the trunk of my car when it’s been frozen shut. Finally, I hate putting on a hat, a scarf, and gloves every day in addition to my coat. I’m glad I had the chance to getting some reading done outside!

  14. Does this make us tri-athletes (or multi-athletes?)

  15. Very cleverly written, Paprika!! So many analogies!! Really adorable!

  16. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    LOVE your red wrought iron! Was his butt frozen in place? (Mom always warned of “chill blains” in reference to sitting on any icy perch; )

  17. Oh so funny! I am sending you warm So Cal thoughts!

  18. Lmbo! Those sound like events I would totally watch!

  19. And in the real Olympics you only get to participate in one event! We here in the Northeast get to participate in all of them!


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