Feb 142011

By Denise Mattia


I didn’t need a forecast on the evening of December 26th to tell me that New York’s first snowstorm was going to be big.  The city had that muffled silence that only happens with a snowfall.  Sirens were down to a bleat, voices were softened to whispers instead of shouts.  Cars’ tires crunched lightly on the snowy asphalt.  Only the scrape against sidewalks from shovels could be heard as apartment maintenance teams tried in vain to clear a path.


At 7 a.m. the next morning I bundled up and faced a pristine white city – a departure from the winter grey, for which New York is famous.  Thirteen inches of snow had fallen, and the winds had created drifts that made it impossible to navigate through.  Snow was heaped high on parked cars, and I doubted the owners were able to tell what belonged to whom.

Only outlines of the vehicles were visible —the city’s ploughs hadn’t created glaciers out of them by scooping the drifts from the street against their sides.  Later in the week, New Yorkers learned the sanitation department was on a “slow down” in reaction to the city’s proposed budget cuts.


I walked thigh-high in the white powder to Central Park and was out of breath by the time I reached the reservoir.  Each step brought me deeper into the snow.  At the boathouse, I met a fellow cameraman, whose nose was as runny as mine, and we discussed lenses and exposures between serious honking.  I gave a clean tissue to a camera buff, who’d been trying to wipe the snow off his lens with his shirt.  He’d fallen in a deep drift and was afraid his new “baby” would suffer the consequence.  I told him Canons were hardy cameras and he thanked me profusely.  I knew how he felt.




It started again on January 11th and continued through the afternoon of 12th.  Another 9-inch dense layer covered bags of garbage, city soot and dog poop from the previous storm.  I started out for an early appointment, hoping to take a bus across to the East Side, but nothing came.  I walked instead, camera at the ready and was rewarded with a few good shots.

My colleagues roared with laughter as I approached, looking like an indomitable snowwoman. 

I’d go out a couple hours later to capture Fifth Avenue and the Met Museum.  Farther downtown, business was as usual.  Traffic was snarled, the streets were sloppy and people rushed toward their destinations.


Exactly one month after the first storm, New Yorkers were hit with another 19 inches, both a record- and a patience-breaker.  The sanitation department had run out of snow-removal material, which caused traffic to stand still.



It took hours for busses to start running again and many subways were stalled.  Only taxi cabs ventured out, as most owners’ cars were still snowed in.


With all, everyone agreed, it was a perfect

whiteout and the prettiest storm of all.  Snow clung to every surface, making trees look like lace.


Joggers, children, dog walkers and camera buffs reveled in the scenery.  As temperatures plummeted, the mounds froze.  Icicles dripped from buildings and sidewalks became skating rinks. New York had become a winter wonderland.

Most of us had donned boots and wore them for over a month.  Fashionistas longed for stylish shoes.  New Yorkers were so hoping the groundhog’s prediction was accurate.



Still, real snowstorms are unique in the city, and I’d never seen so many urbanites capture images with every conceivable electronic device before.  New York got snowed under. It brought out the kid in most of us, and we wouldn’t have traded the storms for the world.

As appeared in Tripatini.com



Denise Mattia

About Denise Mattia

A writer and photographer, Denise Mattia’s works are published nationally and internationally and include all aspects of leisure travel: art , culture, resorts, spas, food and wine and sports’ activities. She's the founder of the soon to be launched Yum-Yum-Traveler, a site devoted to reviewing restaurants in addition to her travel articles from around the world. She lives and works in Manhattan, where she was born.

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