By Seamus Gallivan
I love snow, and I love shoveling it; it’s fun and fitnessful. That may sound crazy to some, but I believe others will join me if I set out from Sweetness 7 Cafe (220 Grant St, corner of Lafayette) at 10am this morning to shovel out as many places as possible by noon. It makes a good deed, whether it’s done for your favorite neighbor or a random stranger. We’ve got a few extra shovels for those who don’t have their own – who’s with me?
I’ve a theory that snow helped earn Buffalo its nickname as “The City of Good Neighbors” – it’s rooted in the ways these big snowstorms bring us together. Consider the time before electricity and central heating, and how the community responded to being snowed in. There must have been a neighbor on any given street, perhaps an elder living alone, who needed to be checked on, dug out; perhaps the person who did so had been a stranger until then, or at least hadn’t shown such care. Perhaps it took a few folks to get enough snow out of the way to make sure that neighbor was OK – by the time they parted ways, they knew and probably liked each other a good bit better.
These days, snow inspires random acts of kindness such as scraping off a neighbor’s car or plowing the sidewalk stretching well beyond one’s own. Further, we’ve been so beaten up about this weather by outsiders that it’s become a badge of honor that we know how to deal with it – and among folks like me, actually enjoy it. Darn right We’re Talkin’ Proud about a blizzard after we’ve partied through it – forts and tunnels for the kids, six-packs for the adults…you haven’t known snow until you’ve done a cannonball off a second-floor porch onto a front lawn full of it.
After the latest snowstorm hit Wednesday night into Thursday morning, I put in a couple hours digging out a friend on the Lower West Side – he said he he’d never talked to some of his neighbors as much as he did that day. Soon after we helped shovel out the older lady next door, the guy across the street insisted on showing off his snowblower to rid the driveways of the piles left in their path by plows.
Suddenly, from deep in a driveway, we heard a crash in the street – an old, rotten tree had come tumbling down, clipping an approaching NFTA bus carrying riders. People gathered around in wonder; the driver took photos; authorities were called; approaching cars were directed away; a neighbor was called home and marveled that he’d been parked under the tree five minutes prior; we all talked, laughed, and thanked our lucky snowflakes that no serious damage to person nor property had occurred. Unable to continue his route forward, the bus driver asked if I would be an extra set of eyes as he backed out of the bend at the end of Maryland Street, so I helped him back that bus up. It was the least I could do after taking 30 or so photos of the scene – I gawked and talked, then walked the walk. It was a memorable, if minuscule moment in which a community comes together.
Let’s see how many shovelers we can gather at Sweetness 7 this morning and dig out the surrounding neighborhood for a couple hours – calling all Good Neighbors!