We lived on 45 West Van Buren down in the humble little city of Oswego, N.Y., the home of the great Fort Ontario and some of the best salmon fishing in the world. We lived about a thousand feet from the lakeshore, right next to Wright's Landing, a fishing dock that serviced thousands of fisherman frothing at the mouth to win the latest tournament whether it was in search of the biggest King Salmon, Brown Trout, Steelhead, or Lake Perch. There were tournaments all the time. But I digress.
The point is that we lived right on the lake. Lake + Winter = Lake Effect. For those of you who don't know what I speak of when I speak of lake effect, it is the beautiful marriage of weather patterns that produces snowflakes the size of ping pong balls. The warmth of the lake collides with the frigid air producing snow that looks like it's been manually fed, and artificially bred to cause natural disasters. When you see the dark clouds forming over the lake coming from East to West, you might as well board up the windows, get out your canned venison and batten down the hatches, cause it's gonna be a doozy.
Being only three or four, winter was still a mystery to me. I didn't understand the climate, the region of the world we lived in, or the nuances of lake effect snow...I only knew that for about 4 to 5 months the world got really cold and white stuff rained down from on high covering the earth with a pure mirth that made my heart flutter with joy.
And the winter of '77? Oh my. It snowed for almost 5 days straight at one point, dropping a record 5-7 feet piled so high that the snow banks were touching the power lines in some drifted areas. School was canceled, a national emergency was called, and people were everywhere shoveling themselves out of their own personal snowy tomb.
My dad shoveled out our porch and sidewalk and the snowbanks were so high that we could climb up on the roof of the porch and slide down without consequence. You could literally climb on the neighbor's roof and jump off into drifts without fearing injury. I felt invincible, almost immortal, like we were in heaven playing in the clouds or something like that. My brother and I would play and play and play until our cheeks were frostbitten and our noses were caked with icicles. Our snowsuits were so oversized that we waddled around like penguins with excruciating lower back pain.
I can't tell you the euphoria of living in what could only be described as the North Pole. We would play for hours on end no longer earth bound and gravity conscious. We were free, as free as I ever remember being in my life. And my dad and mom let us rule and reign without the cautious "Be careful!" to suck the life out of our adventure. I needed that kind of green light as a little boy every once in a while. I don't think I saw enough green lights along the way to test my masculine heart.
The Blizzard of '77. It sounds like the song, "it was the summer of '69"...
"...it was the closest thing to heaven.....back in the blizzard of '77...." lalalala.
...cause it was. It still is.