The Big Snowstorm

by Don Meyer, PhD. | Jan 16, 2010

"In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."
William Blake

There is nothing quite like a big snowstorm in southeastern Pennsylvania. For days we heard about the developing low in the Gulf and the shape of the jet stream in the north. 
If the jet stream stayed to the north, we would get lots of rain. If the jet stream dipped south and met the low as it came north, we could have a big snowstorm. 

For those of us who love snow, just thinking about what might happen got us excited. For me it brought back all of those wonderful childhood memories when a big snowstorm meant no school and building snow forts and throwing snowballs and going sledding. 

The day finally arrived when the low came north smacking into the cold jet stream as it brought frigid air from our northern neighbors. It really was the perfect storm. 

Saturday morning, December 19 it all started with a few flurries. I filled my three birdfeeders, got my shovels from the basement, and waited. By noon we all knew this storm was real. By afternoon and evening it was coming down an inch or two per hour. 

Since I love photography, I decided to take a series of time lapsed pictures out one of the windows of the old farmhouse where we live. I set up my tripod and attached my camera at an angle on our picnic bench on which are three green pots for plants...small, medium, and large. 

I took my first picture with just a whisper of snow. Over the next 24 hours I took picture after picture as the snow came down. With our porch light on, I could even shoot pictures into the dark night. Eventually, two out of the three pots were completely covered with snow. 

By the time the snow stopped on Sunday morning, December 20, we realized history had just been made. Multiple records were broken in places like Washington D.C. and Wilmington, DE, here and south Jersey. Philadelphia got 22.4 inches. 

I couldn\'t wait to get outside to take some pictures. I bundled up, put on my boots, and with camera in hand I was off. If you had seen me you would have thought I was trekking across the Alaskan tundra. 

Neither my words nor my pictures could begin to capture what I saw. From the white snow on the little green leaves and red berries of our holly tree to the huge piles on the trees and roads and roofs and bushes, I was mesmerized. 

I couldn\'t snap my pictures fast enough. The old wheel barrow. The birdfeeder. The silhouette of our house. The fence. The pine trees. The old and new buildings on campus. The front sign. The four rows of oak trees at the entrance of our campus. The people plowing snow. 

On and on I walked and on and on I took pictures. Some of my favorite shots were along The Forge Nature Trail. I can\'t wait to download them and view them on my computer. 

Snow is not welcomed by everyone. Before Christmas, retailers don\'t like it. Travelers in trains, planes and automobiles don\'t like it. People without snow blowers don\'t like it. But as for me, I have always loved the snow. 

We all know Minnesota gets lots of snow. Our sons and many friends often hear us reflect on our mild winters compared to theirs. This weekend, however, our roles were reversed. Our son quoted his pastor who asked his congregation for a show of hands, \"How many of you feel sorry for all of the people on the east coast who just received that huge snowstorm?\" No hands went up. Snowstorms are not big to Minnesotans; they are big to us. 

Yes, the snow will eventually melt and only what will remain of the big snowstorm will be my memory and my pictures but what a memory and what great pictures. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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