For most of my life, I have adhered to my secular Sunday morning routine as strictly as the most devout churchgoer attends services.
That is until Sunday, March 10, a week before St. Paddy’s day, a week and a half before the supposed first day of spring, the day after we had sprung forward in anticipation of that season, when I awoke to 4 or 5 inches of newly deposited heavy, wet snow on my uncleared driveway and unplowed road.
I put on my boots, trudged past the mounds standing like misshapen, headless 6-foot-tall white sentinels on either side of the entrance to my driveway, then stepped across the road, through the deep ruts of tire tracks left by the vehicle of some adventurous motorist, and retrieved my “Record-Eagle” from its box, which leans like a boxer on the way to the canvas after absorbing a beating from the snow plows.
Paper in hand, I headed back to the house well aware that my routine demands that on Sunday mornings I do not settle for the local paper where I happen to be residing, in this case the very one in which this column appears. Remaining true to my deeply rooted heritage, I drive the 4 and a half miles to the market at Mapleton to buy a “New York Times,” without which a Sunday just does not seem right. Reading it online is a poor substitute for paging through its formidable bulk section by section. At the market, I also buy a blueberry muffin for my bedridden wife. Back home, I toast a frozen bagel for my long-standing preferred Sunday morning breakfast.
That is what I do, and have done, every Sunday as far back as my memory stretches, even to the time before our move here from Long Island, New York, when instead of going to the market for a muffin, I would travel — by bike in good weather — to a local shop for freshly baked bagels for each of us including a salted one for our daughter then living with us. The Sunday “Times” would have been delivered to the bottom of our driveway.
But this March 10th Sunday, in spite of all that history, I chose not to risk the short ride to the store. Because of my wife’s condition, I am more wary about running into a problem on the road. But earlier in the winter, on a day not much better than this Sunday, I had gritted my teeth, reduced my speed, and driven to the market.
The deciding factor this time was simply my exhaustion dealing with this interminable winter, featuring constant snowfall and accompanying frigid temperatures that defeated our heating system, a visit from the polar vortex, a layer of compacted ice making my driveway suitable for skating but not walking, and a 4-foot-tall pile of snow on our deck denying our dog easy access to her yard.
I am confident that some old-timers are going to say winters used to be much worse way back then when no doubt they had to walk, probably lacking boots if not bare-footed, to school through mountainous drifts that would dwarf the ones I am complaining about, and that those winters started earlier and ended later than the ones we deal with now.
Perhaps so. I won’t argue the point.
But I will say that this one, for me, has been formidable enough to make me, on that particular Sunday, depart from a lifetime of Sunday morning observances.
But if winter is now feeling smug about its victory, I declare in the words we Brooklynites uttered after yet another failed attempt at winning a World Series, “Wait till next year.”
Stephen Lewis, originally from Brooklyn, New York is a retired college English professor and writer whose novels include two mysteries set in northern Michigan.