Faye Rapoport DesPres

Starting a Semester During the Snowpocalypse

DSC_0248As I sit here, chilly and tired at 2 p.m. on a Friday afternoon, another snowstorm is headed toward Boston. I’ve lived in several snow-friendly regions over the years, from upstate New York, where snow days were a regular part of my childhood, to Colorado, where I often drove through heavy snow on the way to the ski resorts in the mountains. Still, I’ve never experienced anything quite like the last three weeks in Massachusetts, when storm after storm has dumped one, two, three, and then four feet of snow on Boston and its outlying suburbs. I like snow for the most part; I’ve always enjoyed the thrill of natural storms. I don’t mind trekking out to the bird feeder in my boots every morning or shoveling out the driveways day after day (getting snow off the roof this weekend will be a bit more tricky).

Even I, however, realize that at this point Bostonians have a problem. No one knows where to put all of the snow! There’s nowhere to deposit it but higher and higher onto piles that are blocking the view on every street corner. Streets that normally have two lanes have been narrowed down to one. Drivers are pulling over to let other drivers pass in the opposite direction. The MBTA, from what I hear, is a commuting nightmare. Schools have declared snow days week after week, sometimes for days at a time. My own class, a twice-a-week section of Writing 2 at Lasell College, has been canceled three Tuesdays in a row. As much as all of us–students and teachers alike–enjoy the unexpected break that snow days provide, it can be tough to keep the momentum going in a course when the sessions keep getting canceled. Luckily, I took a training course in teaching online last semester, so I’ve been able to create lessons my students can complete over the Internet to make up for some of the missed class time.

The sad part is that I haven’t been skiing! So much beautiful snow is piled outside every window, and for the most part, I’m stuck indoors at my desk. I’m working a lot these days, and my husband is working on his dissertation on weekends. Besides, outdoor temperatures have been downright frigid; only the brave at heart would be on top of a mountain in the middle of these extra-cold days. Still, I miss skiing; I miss the days back in Boulder when I’d climb into a car at 5:00 a.m. with a few friends and drive south along the Front Range as the sun rose over the mountains. We’d turn west onto Route 6 once we hit Golden, and then join up with I-70 near Idaho Springs. Usually our destination was the Winter Park ski area…occasionally we drove further to Breckenridge.

But those weekend ski days were a decade ago now. My days in Boston are marked by pre-dawn hours in my writing room, classes to plan and teach twice a week, papers to grade, freelance writing and editing projects to complete, and getting our house ready to go on the market March 1. This summer we plan to move into a small house in Cambridge that used to belong to Jean-Paul’s mother.

For the past few weeks I’ve been writing a short story. The second draft is done, and I am ready to work on the third, which will require some cutting. The funny thing is this: the events detailed in the story take place on a cold night…right after a snowstorm. My protagonist is hiking up a mountain trail.

The past and the present have collided in my imagination.