Blizzard on the Beach

No one can argue about being blindsided; this morning broke with an entirely expected sight. The weather service had been forecasting heavy snows for the region over nearly the last forty-eight hours. The title of this piece incorporates two words rarely seen together, particularly in a descriptive setting. The snows covered the beach in white and the seas raged accompanied by a blustery wind, blowing almost enough to blast me off my feet. In my unstable condition, this gave me significant pause.

The town, such as it is, awoke covered in a blanket of white. These wintry conditions are something with which the populace is quite unaccustomed. The last snow in these parts was five years ago, at least according to the beleaguered front desk clerk, hounded as she was by guests inquiring as to when exactly the cable company would restore service, both television and wireless. I am sure the folks with kids relegated to the indoors by the inclement conditions are hoping restoration will come far sooner rather than later.

In describing this town, I used the phrase “such as it is.” With good reason, as there is little to sanction its existence. All commercial interests line the main highway; outside of the gas station and adjacent store at the crossroads, there is little with which to identify “town.” At various junctures, small stores and restaurants cluster in a bid to stave off wholesale extinction. At best, these “mini-malls” represent what has become of small-town America.

It used to be a general store, a barbershop, a tavern and various public buildings (post office, courthouse, etc.) comprised a town. Now, malls serve the needs of chain-store corporations but contribute little to the ambience or sense of place of small communities. These circumstances isolate people and only serve to distance them from their fellow townspeople. Once upon a time, town squares and grange halls stood as gathering spots for the disengaged among us. Now, Wal-Mart, McDonalds and Taco Bell serve this need. Corporate greed creates and caters to this isolation. It is as if they need us to be alone in order to work their wiles with any effectiveness.

Outside, as temperatures ascend above the freezing mark, the snow slowly abates. Where once the mock-up of an old time sailing ship stood in a veritable sea of white, now it stand alone and foundering on the grassy shores of the playground, no longer the vision of a sailor’s rhapsodic yarn it once was. No longer free to mount the high seas of its snowy escape, it now stands aground once more, enlivened only by the imagination of children as well as those to whom its snowbound fantasy spoke.

By nightfall, the rain and moderated conditions had served to vanquish the snow almost entirely. At sunset, I peeked outside and this process convinced me a plow had come through, so much so I looked about the compound to see if I could espy said plow but no evidence was in the offing. Again, by nightfall the clearance work was mostly completed. We shall see if any more snowfall is in the cards. For the moment, I will have to make do with my photographic memories of the blizzard on the beach.

© Stephen Alexander 2010

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