, Newburyport, MA

February 6, 2014

Our view: Tough old New Englanders? Not us

Newburyport Daily News

---- — It’s 2014, and we feel confident in saying that we are no longer the New Englanders that we are fabled to be.

We don’t trudge six miles uphill, both ways, to get to school during a blinding snowstorm. We don’t have blankets squirreled away in the back of the car in anticipation of spending a bonechilling night stuck somewhere on a forlorn stretch of highway. There’s no gridlock of grimly determined commuters fighting their way along a barely plowed stretch of snowmageddoned ashphalt.

No, those days are behind us.

Instead, we’re comfortable calling in a “snow day” and working from home. We don’t get by on whatever questionable “must sniff first” leftover the fridge may hold. We hit the supermarkets and fill our carts, and not just with way too much bread and milk. No, these days the cashiers tell us the most popular item for the pre-storm prep crowd is ice cream. If there’s more than an inch of snow on the road, we curse out the snowplow guys.

We don’t even have the mental toughness to set the alarm for 5:30 a.m. to get up and see whether school is canceled. These days, the announcements are made before the 11 p.m. news broadcast comes on, ensuring a fitful night of slumber.

Does anyone even own a fur-lined ugly green parka anymore?

Our forefathers would shake their heads in disappointment. Our famous grizzle and grit are gone. We’re more like New Yorkers, except with a lot more trees and grass.

This latest snowstorm is a pretty good example. The weather forecasters had us girding for a foot of snow, and so virtually everything was shut down and the ice cream shelves took a big hit. By the time the snow finally stopped, the inch counts fell short of that.

Maybe it’s all for the better. We don’t take risks, and we rarely get caught in those epic 5-hour commutes anymore. No one comes into work with a horror story; instead, they are home safely and warmly surfing the web, all the while telling the boss they are actually working. The kids get to sleep late and play video games. The sleds gather dust in the garage.

No, we are not our forefathers’ New Englanders.

The mantle of winter toughness has been passed to the good and hearty people of the upper Midwest, where they seem to regularly endure 20-degree below zero temperatures and great drifting masses of snow. Some of them even enjoy it. And we bet they also still have fur-lined parkas.