Doug Pratt on Snowmageddon

One of the delights of taking on a Fulbright is expecting the unexpected. It happens. So far, for me, it has been mainly about snow. Hell may not have frozen over, but the capital of the most powerful nation on earth was paralyzed for almost a full week by the 2010 Snowmageddon. And I was in the midst thereof. Well, not quite – more tucked away on the sidelines, actually; snug in my tenth-floor apartment which never felt the chills of power failure, happily working away (have lap-top, will travel) and still internet-connected to the rest of the world.

It all began on a Friday. I was not long into my work, with snow already falling and the temperature dropping, when – unbelievable really – the fire alarms went off! Hanging around outside waiting for fire-engines to navigate deteriorating road conditions was no fun. I anticipated cutting my day short; but really I wanted to get my lecture preparation finished. I had a sense that coming back on Sunday after the storm had gone through on the Saturday might not be such a good idea. I was right, as it turned out. So I opted to wait a little. With the all clear given, I went back to work.

I was getting hungry.

I know, I’ll pop upstairs to the student-run kiosk that sells sandwiches, bagels & buns – I have discovered a plain bagel, toasted with cream cheese & chives, makes a good hunger-busting snack. Well, I got one – but only just. It was only 1.30pm and the kiosk was closing up! While I had been beavering away – and not on the internet – an email had come round to say the University was closing down from 1.00pm in order to allow people to get home ahead of the full blast of the storm. The students at the Kiosk took pity on me, however, and did me a bagel – but no coffee. I finished my work – rather quickly – and made my way home through the early pre-storm snow. It was to be nine days before I was able to get back.

The unexpected had happened.

It was all very interesting, fun, even charming to a point – but the romance quickly faded, especially for people needing to get to and from work etc. Now three weeks or so later we await the thawing warmth of springtime. I am told that Spring is the best season in Washington. Bring it on!