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.
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.
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.