Trader Joe queues snaking around city blocks, Starbucks shut until further notice and people panic-buying the essentials - seems Juno has officially introduced herself to these cold, hard New York streets. By Juno, I'm sure it's well understood by now, I mean the 2015 Snowpocalpse or Snowmaggedon or Snowzilla or whatever other ridiculous portmanteau involving the word "Snow" the media is throwing out there at this very moment with regards to the winter superstorm currently raging along the east coast.
I have never been one to be wardrobe-ready when such occasions demand such practicality. The biggest, most notable problem has always been my lack of appropriate shoe-wear. Which is surprising really, given my utter hate and dread of soggy wet feet you would think I would be savvy to the winter elements with an ever-ready stockpile of go-to waterproofs. The only time I think I have previously been fully protected against the potential soggy feet debacle were the times when I was coasting down those freshly-pisted Alps and had no choice but to don my ski boots...dry feet by default really.
Not so this winter for I have a pair of shiny, furry Matalan boots my sister thinkingly-purchased before taking to the skies to spend Christmas with me. Now that she has headed south to warmer climes she left them in my sole care, so this evening I defied all warnings to stay indoors and wait out the storm in safety by velcroing on these little feet-havens and took to the snow-ploughed streets of the Upper West Side. It was beautiful.
Maybe it was due to a significant decrease in the level of traffic cruising the Avenues or the subdued tones of people making their speedy way home, shoulders hunched against the biting cold, but an air of peaceful calm permeated my eight-block walk to Wholefoods as I prepared to stockpile on cereal and peanut butter (I'm a recent convert who now foregoes the bread accompaniment to eat the creamy, crunchy goodness by the spoonful...my former self would be repulsed but so it goes). When weather situations get extreme like this, it feels like normal protocol simply flies out the window and a do-what-you-like mentality kicks in. The same, you would think, goes for the food items people stock their fridges with in the event of becoming housebound. Snow-treats should be all about comfort food, salty snacks and chocolate. However, the "essentials", I noticed that featured mainly in the baskets of fellow-shoppers consisted of beers (sensible), frozen yogurt (because you can never have too much frozen in times like this?), vats of water, punnets of raspberries/blueberries and almond milk.
Now this may appear all well and good and normal here on American soil but in Ireland the scene would play out entirely differently. Of course, it could be a result of my choice of grocery shop and maybe Wholefood consumers are a far healthier bunch of eaters but if this was your average Dunnes Stores in Ireland and the nation had just received a government warning that weather conditions were to reach critical levels whereby declaring all public transport inactive and no vehicles allowed on roads, it's safe to say the average shopping trolley would be piled high with frozen pizza, Cool Ranch Doritos, a vast array of dipping options, Denny's bacon, McCain's spicy wedges, maybe a selection of cheeses if you considered yourself fancy, jumbo-sized Cadbury Fruit and Nut bars and microwave popcorn. Sure the beer would be nestled in there comfortably, probably even a bottle of Jameson too for the hot totties to stave off the cold, but raspberries? blueberries? milk that is anything but blue (full fat for the lads) or pink (skimmed for the girls - purely coincidental on the colour-coding I'm assuming as I refuse to succumb to the sexism one could argue is at play here)? don't stand a look-in. We're a reasonable bunch, the Irish, and if we have gone so far as to pay heed to such government warning in the first place then you can be sure we are going to utilise this free-pass for midweek indulgence and push the boat out on the treat front, calorie-counting will resume once normality has again been declared.
So there I was, making fresh tracks as I made my way home along Columbus Avenue, content in my dry, snug, waterproof boot-encased feet (such luxury), with my bag of essentials swinging by my side (peanut butter, cereal - the emergency stash) and I had to laugh to myself as I recalled the conversation I had with my Kildare-based sister earlier in the day as I relayed to her the public warnings to stay home and be safe and how workers were being booked into hotel rooms all across Midtown so they would be sure to make it to work in the morning and remembering her truly-Irish response of: "That's great, here they would be just like 'sure we'll be grand, no need to worry." And I simply thought: "Quite." These snow-days were made for that school-snow-day-abandonment where we didn't worry about the danger on the roads just so long as the school bus wasn't running or the lack of milk (regardless of its fat content/flavour) or the possibility of frozen pipes. We were just on an all-time high feeling like we were running the world with each snowman we built and snowball we threw.
Tonight, I'm taking that feeling with me to bed in the hope that maybe my work shift will be cancelled in the morning and I can once again don those shiny waterproof boots that make my feet so darn happy and go sludging through a sparkling Central Park. For these are my new snow-days and this, folks, is New York.