By Hannah Reich Berman

It’s hard to remember when we last had such a fierce winter. I’m sure we have had others before this, but all I can focus on is the here and now. This winter, the meteorologists–known to most of us as weathermen–have, for some reason, been doing their fair share of messing up. Either they predict massive snows which never materialize, or they trivialize an approaching snow that turns out to be a monster storm.

But the sad fact is that, whatever they do, they can’t please me. I don’t like it if they’re wrong and I’m not overjoyed if they turn out to be right–especially when they predict a big snow. Every time we hear that a coming snowstorm will be dumping a few inches on us, seemingly normal folks go insane. The nutcases among us descend on supermarkets with fierce determination and proceed to sweep the shelves clean. Anyone observing a pre-storm madness would think that we live in a wilderness and won’t be able to venture outside until the spring thaw!

Nobody seems to remember that in most cases we’re able to be out and about within 24 hours. They forget that heavy vehicular traffic clears main thoroughfares, most side streets get plowed, and sidewalks get shoveled. They also disregard the fact that their favorite supermarket isn’t going anyplace. It will still be there when the snow stops. Nonetheless, just before a snowstorm, the excitement in the air is palpable. Oddly, it is also contagious.

I’m not sure if I should include myself in this group of nuts. True, I do get myself to the supermarket before a snowfall, but, once inside, I buy only what I absolutely need–items I would need even if a storm were not about to hit. Everyone else seems to be stocking up on supplies that they couldn’t use up in a year!

Unfortunately, my assessment about plowed streets is from memory only. It has not held true this winter. After one or two recent snowfalls, many streets were left unplowed, and that included some well-traveled “through streets.” That is how I refer to any street that is not a main thoroughfare and not a small, rarely traveled side street. I live on a through street. As regards the lack of plowing last month, the same was true of a local parking lot. Two weeks ago, while attempting to get into a drugstore, a supermarket, and a wonderfully convenient store known as The Variety Connection, I had to traverse a parking lot that looked like a frozen tundra!

For some reason, this busy lot was not plowed and did not appear to be salted. Individual storeowners did their best. They shoveled their front and rear sidewalks and the approaches to their doors, but there still remained a vast no-man’s-land in the middle of the lot that was virtually impossible to get across without slipping and sliding. I know this to be true because I slipped and I slid and would undoubtedly have landed on my backside had two strangers not come to my assistance. I try not to think about how I must have looked as I was doing my balancing act. I must have made one comical sight, if perfect strangers came up and offered to help me.

My first inclination was to decline the offer, but the inclination didn’t last long. Within seconds, I came to my senses, put my pride in my back pocket, and accepted the offer. I looped each of my arms into one of theirs, and the three of us made our way from one end of the parking lot to the other. They delivered me safely to the door of The Variety Connection, and I thanked them profusely.

As I entered the store, I wondered how I was going to get myself safely back across the lot to my car. Thank goodness for my daughter’s delicious friend. She was on her way to work and happened to be in the store at that moment. One look at me and she knew I was in trouble. I wasn’t even sure-footed inside the store, because I had tracked in so much snow and slush from the outside that my boots dripped and made the floor wet and possibly slippery. The only way the store employee could keep the floor dry was to walk behind me with his mop.

“If you think I’m bad in here,” I said to this friend, “you should have seen me outside. Thank goodness two men helped get me here.” Without a moment’s hesitation, she offered to get me back to my car. It wasn’t an offer in the true sense of the word–she insisted on it! Once again I ignored the inclination to reject an offer of help. I held her arm and slowly we made our way back to my car. That I got back and forth across the parking lot without falling on my head was nothing short of a miracle.

It is unclear to me exactly when I became such a klutz. I’m also not certain when I became so fearful of falling. As I am no longer agile (if I ever was), huge mounds of hardened snow and ice scare me. Even slush frightens me. Right now all I can think of is waiting for this winter to end. The forecasts have been weird. When a weatherman predicts between two or three inches of snow, I can live with it. I can even handle a forecast of a possible six to ten inches. But what I heard before one recent snowstorm blew my mind. At first I thought I was hearing things, but other people heard it too. One forecaster announced (with a straight face, yet) that we could expect anywhere between three and thirty inches of snow. Was he kidding? If that’s the definition of a prediction, I could be a weatherperson too. But frankly, I don’t want the responsibility. That’s the way it is. v

Hannah Berman lives in Woodmere and is a licensed real-estate broker associated with Marjorie Hausman Realty. She can be reached at or 516-902-3733.

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