Let it snow: why my beat-up boots are better than a car

Cambridgesnow2

Epic winter 2015

There is nearly seven feet of snow outside. Seven. Feet. Of. Snow. Which means my car hasn’t moved since the ceaseless cycle of snow storms welcomed me to Boston three weeks ago with wintry arms.

Turn on the TV, catch a glimpse of anyone tasked with managing Mother Nature’s present ire, and your heart just aches: the overtaxed plow drivers, the bleary-eyed mayor, the normally chirpy meteorologist tearing up as his projected forecast hits the screen, and the Lord-have-mercy-on-them-T-riders getting stuck at every stop. One reporter recently described the current state of getting around by car best: “short simple commutes have turned into odysseys.”

So unless I’m prepared to duke it out with another driver fighting for right-of-way on local streets that have turned into narrow white canyons, I’m not driving anywhere. This Seattle-born driver won’t win a Boston street battle. Ever. And that’s just fine. Because underneath the layers of snow, ice, salt, dirt, dog pee and local denizens’ tears I’ve found a silver lining – and it resides within my heavy snow boots.

I get to walk. Everywhere. And that is just awesome.

Because prior to relocating to this uber-high walk score town from a distant suburb of Philadelphia, I drove. Everywhere. And that wasn’t so awesome: Out of bananas? Get in the car or wait til June for my local Farmers Market to ramp up again. Yoga somewhere other than my living room? Minimum 30-minute drive on a good day. Hour-plus drive if just one yahoo texts on the Turnpike and causes an accident. I drove. And drove. And even developed a nagging ache in my right hamstring from too much contact with the gas pedal.

Since landing here, however, I’ve walked. And noticed some pretty cool benefits in the process:

My inner ballerina is coming out. Tiptoeing on an uneven, 6″ wide icy surface in heavy boots is forcing me to recruit several core muscles that lied dormant in my drive-everywhere days. Tree pose in yoga is now a breeze. Dancer pose on a hot studio floor now brings with it a massive sense of joy and gratitude of being able to fully express myself on steady floor with improved balance.

I’m saving at the grocery store and more. You want it? Gotta schlep it! Hikes to the grocery store are making me think twice about that giant box of granola or out-of-season-but oh-so-tasty melon or bag of grapes (alas, the gourmet dark chocolate with sea salt bar takes up no space at all in my backpack, but what the hell…) I’m saving on clothes too. Single-digit temperatures mean absolutely no one gives a rip about my wardrobe. We are all flaunting our second-hand flannels and pilled-to-the-edges Target sweaters with a Boston sense of function-over-fashion pride.

I’m getting strong. While the car hasn’t moved, my little CRV hasn’t let me off the hook entirely. Each morning, in single-digit temps, it lures me over, testing my will: “let’s see if you can dig me out this time, sister!” I’ve discovered a shovel and a pile of snow will trump a lat pull-down machine and gym membership any damn day.

I’m connecting to others. I no longer see human beings during my commutes through a windshield. Lacing up my boots and walking to my new favorite coffee shop, bookstore, or local yoga studio gives me the opportunity to make eye contact and smile at others. And while more than a few walk right past purposefully without flinching, a new yogi pal I met at the studio put out her hand and insisted, “I am here to dispel the myth that all New Englanders are cold!!”

And I believe her. I truly do. Even if we are all freezing our asses off right now. So strap on your boots and go for a walk.

 

 

Why I’m a Twelfth Man Fan…in Boston

Hawks SB photo

12th Man Fan – AP photo

Recent voice mail from a pal back in Seattle (my hometown): “Jeez-UZ, Shan. Fans are ready to jump off buildings over that call…”

But the message continued: “ah, but we still love ’em. I saw an old lady with a walker in the cereal aisle rockin’ a Marshawn Lynch jersey at Safeway yesterday. Either she didn’t see the last play or she’s over it.”

I firmly believe she’s over it, and rocked that jersey with pride. Regardless the outcome. My beloved Seahawks played a hell of a game, and I still think Russell Wilson is God. I mean, he practices yoga, meditates, and loves up sick kids at Seattle Children’s Hospital on a regular basis. He is God.

In all seriousness though, the outcome of this recent SuperBowl, which took place five days after settling into my new apartment in Cambridge, has made me realize just how strong the Twelfth Man is. And why these Patriot fans, or any fans, have got nothing on us:

What parade? I watched the evening news and listened quizzically as the anchors all lauded the awesome turnout. Really? Images of Seattle’s SB parade last year popped into my head. “Tens of thousands of fans!” the Boston Globe later reported. Seattle’s parade? 700,000 Twelfth Man fans. Maybe it’s because this isn’t the first win for the Patriots. But I just didn’t see a heckuva lot of red and blue the way I saw neon green and blue light up my TV screen (60″ btw) last year.

Cold, schmold. Yes, in 7 days time we’ve been pummeled by 3 feet of snow. My nose looks like Rudolph. My lat muscles are cramping from shoveling overload. And I’m not alone. Even the heartiest New Englanders are probably not all too keen on turning into frozen statues outdoors. But c’mon! The SuperBowl winners are here! And the mayor even postponed the parade by a day for temps to pick up. Seattle fans braved sub-freezing temps to attend last year, and really, it’s all relative: “cold” to Seattle peeps is defined as anything that requires more than a thin polar fleece jacket. Take it from a girl who knows. L.L. Bean has made a fortune off my “send-me-warm-stuff now!” online orders.

We’re quirky. That gal with a walker in a Marshawn Lynch jersey. The flight attendant in a Wilson jersey on my last trip back home. Blue and green false eyelashes on a friend’s FB profile pic. A yoga teacher who doesn’t know a first down from a slam dunk wearing a Seahawks tee to teach class. Skittles have become a new Pacific NW food group – someone, somewhere, in Seattle is creating an organic version.

We coach through love. I am as intrigued by what I see on the sidelines as down the center of the field. When a play goes well, Pete Carroll hugs, jumps for joy, and lifts our players up. When it doesn’t go so well, he hugs, consoles, and encourages them to get back up and try again. Anytime I look down the other line, I see shouting, spitting, foot stomping, and defeat. That may work for some, but not for long. Love conquers fear.

So while I offer big congrats to the Patriots, I will continue to wear my neon green and blue with pride as a forever Twelfth Man Fan.