The winter of 2015, in brief

... Melrose is inundated, records are broken ...

from Don Norris

Storm after storm buried Melrose this winter, adding to the deepening cover of snow week after week. With hardly a chance to melt or settle, the snow reached a depth of some eight feet in many yards -- including Lorry's and mine.

Time after time we broke out the shovels, our plowman arrived, and the snow mass deepened. The first storm was in late January, but February was really the killer that broke all existing records -- at least during our 60 years in Melrose.

My motorcycle, parked on the patio, disappeared under snow by early February, and soon the cars, in our driveway, were completely covered. After digging them out, we parked Lorry's Subaru and my Buick on front lawn -- just to be sure we could get out in an emergency. What saved us was the arrival of our granddaughter, Kathryn and her partner Zach, who shoveled the cars out not just once, but several times. Thank goodness for caring granddaughters.

The house across the street is undergoing a complete re-building, most of which is being done by a single carpenter. The walls, the floors, the kitchen, the electrics, piping -- everything is being rebuilt -- and most of that work is being done by one cheerful carpenter. And he worked almost every day, storm or no.

A portrait of our two cars (whose combined age is 19 years} -- we park them on the front lawn when a storm approaches, so that the plowman has a clean shot at the driveway. And yes, the lawn will need some TLC come spring.

Almost every house in Melrose had icicles decorating the eves and gutters -- ours was no different. We could break off the ones in the front of our Cape-style home, but most other homes in town were festooned with dozens of long, beautiful icicles, for the entire month. There was no thaw in February.

Our woodshed was totally unavailable for a month -- and we still haven't dug it out. We lost our heat due to frozen pipes, and while we hired plumbers to help, the first floor had no heat for over a week. The furnace still worked in the two upstairs bedrooms, but, at one time, we had begged and borrowed five electric heaters in an unsuccessful attempt to thaw the pipes. No soap, and we kept popping fuses with the overload. The best source of heat during this time was the kitchen oven, which ran all day with the oven door wide open. Then, on the seventh cold day, the system fixed itself, and we had heat again. It was devastating to think about no heat downstairs, that our house may catch on fire, or the furnace would give out ...

This is the back yard next door -- between storms. The picture is beautiful, but you can imagine how frightful this storm was for a couple of octogenarians (us). We were saved by our son-in-law who collected three electric heaters from their neighbors, and drove the hundred miles to Melrose to deliver them. And then he -- Jeff Phillips -- climbed to the roof and madly shoveled tons of snow off the sunroom roof. How's
that for neighbors helping neighbors!

That's Kathryn and Zach, shoveling a ton of snow so we could stay mobile. Our street -- probably considered a side-street -- is still, in early March, only one lane wide. It IS picturesque however, and the system has generated a lot of waves and courtesies between drivers.

This flick and the next show that the snow was just shy of eight feet deep in front of our garden shed. That snow was light and fluffy when it fell, but as the days passed, it became compacted and heavier to shovel. So we didn't.

Another flick of the back yard. The shed, which was built on the edge of a 30-foot cliff, remained where it was anchored.

And finally, toward the end of February, we drove up to Danvers for a beer and a nice lunch. On the way back we detoured by the Subaru showroom in Wakefield -- and bought a brand new, bigger, heavier, Subaru Forester -- with four-wheel drive. The calendar has turned to March at this writing, and we hope (and pray) that the record-breaking, back-breaking storms are a thing of the past. Spring is only a few days away.

As a closing note, Lorry and I took a ride around Melrose in late February, shooting scenes of the continuing storms. My purpose was to collect a hundred or so photos of our town, of the homes and businesses of our town -- to record a visual history of the greatest storms of our lives. The disk should be available (edited) in a week or so, and copies may be available -- if I'm still alive!

March 6, 2015

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