Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Sometimes a SnowAngel

What defines SnowPanic? It's more than just a sudden, burning desire for French toast ingredients. Panic in the face of a recent catastrophe can result in rioting, looting, and other boundary violations. Disregard for others' space and property, and an inflated sense of one's own needs, can result.

For example, Sunday I noticed a large pyramid of snow in our back yard, near the fence line, which could not have been natural. It was clearly a pile created by a dump of snow, either a one-time dump by a bobcat, or a repeated dump by a man-powered shovel. It was clear my neighbor, who parks in two alley spots carved out of his back yard, had purposefully shoveled a great pile of snow over our fence. In fact, I caught him at it Monday, and we had a brief, polite exchange. (One well-placed "Really?" apparently convinced him to stop dumping snow into my yard without permission.)

In principle, these SnowHoles have invaded a well-defined, obvious border without even thinking to ask for permission. On the other hand, perhaps their relatively harmless actions should be overlooked given the Snowmaggeddon.

From Haiti, I was not too surprised to learn that looters invaded Main Street not too long after their climactic event. Basic needs -- for water, food, and clothing -- can quickly outweigh morality in the face of dire circumstance. But Haitians invading Wall Street, looting bank vaults, is less fathomable; undoubtedly price gouging by those possessing necessities -- building materials, bus tickets to the D.R. -- played a role. Trying to determine how far the moral lines can reasonably move according to current events can melt one's creative energies for hours.

Then, sometimes a SnowAngel restores one's faith in human nature; the simple act on Monday of another neighbor who -- seeing Dr. Snowpanic's fifth attempt to clear the drive -- walked over and helped with the last push, warmed us so that I forgot my pique with the alley SnowHole.

"So shines a good deed in a weary world."