Over Easy: Taking the Upper Valley by storm

  • Dan Mackie (Courtesy photograph)

For the Valley News
Published: 11/29/2019 8:20:04 PM
Modified: 11/29/2019 8:19:56 PM

I am pleased to announce today the formation of the Upper Valley Weather League, a major initiative to come to grips with the mysterious forces that control our destinies, starting with the morning commute.

Let it not be said that everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it. The Upper Valley Weather League will harness the power of citizen weather observers who will, as top scientists say, “let nothing get past them.” If a snowflake falls in Bethel, alarms will ring in the hills of Canaan. If sleet drops menacingly on Corinth, warning beacons will be set alight in Charlestown.

“Always expect the worst,” will be a guiding principle of the Upper Valley Weather League.

As you may have noticed, snow, sleet and freezing rain, the three horsemen of our local apocalypse, have already shown themselves. Just before they arrived, most people I met were anxious to talk about weather predictions. I counted doubters, fatalists and doomsday preppers among them.

The doubters say the weather forecasters never get it right.

The fatalists say what will be will be. They are unflappable, often old-timers with wool hats, unironically with flaps.

The preppers say we are doomed, even when the storm total is a trace to 1 inch. Doom isn’t what it used to be.

I have spent time in all three camps, influenced by the general zeitgeist, in which fear itself is not nothing, it’s everything. Overall, weather anxiety has increased greatly in recent years, even though vehicles and tires are much improved.

It may be because we are commuting greater distances, or that other stresses — the long-shot odds of getting into Harvard now that bribery is off the table, and even longer odds of ever seeing the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol — have left us too spent to keep our hands off the panic button. (Drivers: Check your owner’s manual for the location of the button on your particular model.)

But something needs to be done, aside from everyone running around like frozen chickens with their heads cut off.

The Upper Valley Weather League will avoid wasting energy by getting right to the heart of the matter, that is, dues. Information, including annual and sustaining memberships, will be released soon, possibly aimed to coincide with my Lebanon property tax bill.

In the meantime, here are some ideas for the Upper Valley Weather League to ponder:

■Let’s harness the nervous energy of winter phobics. If we could attach sensors to agitated drivers it could produce enough energy to light up downtown Hanover, or at least charge their cell phones.

■The League could issue exclusive text warnings throughout the night of an impending storm so the populace will be on the same page, weather-wise and emotional state-wise. Alerts could say helpful things, such as It’s Gonna Be Bad!, Listen to That Wind Howl! and How Could Anyone Sleep Through This?

Assistance for winter insomnia will be available for an additional charge.

■We must persuade Dartmouth College to offer a Master of Arts in Winter Studies degree. The Psychology Department would offer the latest brain science concerning winter driving. The Physics Department could present research on snow removal strategies. That material will have to be practical, not theoretical. As Stephen Hawking used to say, ruminations about what is real ain’t going to get that driveway cleared.

■One of the first actions will be to send a strongly worded letter to authorities in southern New England, New York and other locales. The League will object in the strongest way possible to out-of-region drivers who careen through the area on their way to ski slopes during snowstorms. This goes double for the inadvisable practice (also idiotic) of driving 75 in the left-hand lane in bad conditions because they have oversized vehicles with all-wheel-drive and an extreme number of cupholders. Damn the black ice, full speed ahead!

■Of course the League will offer support groups, a “Snowball Klub for Kids” and glamour tips for dealing with winter hat hair that makes even our best-looking neighbors momentarily resemble Albert Einstein or Larry of the Three Stooges.

But the main thing the Upper Valley Weather League will stress is our common bond. We are all in this together, we are just in separate vehicles.

And spring is around the corner — although this icy section we’re traveling on is somewhat long. It will all be behind us by April, or May at the latest.

Dan Mackie lives in West Lebanon. He can be reached at dan.mackie@yahoo.com.

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