Weathering The Winter

The State of Connecticut has banned flying ice this winter — and every winter from now on. The new law took effect last week just in time for the year’s first big storm. It will levy fines — up to $1,250 for drivers of commercial trucks — for failure to clean snow and ice from their vehicles. So-called ice missiles can pose significant hazards for motorists traveling at high speeds on the interstates, so the law seems like a sensible deterrent to those who need the prospect of stiff fines to focus their minds on safety — at least the safety of those in their rear view mirror. Still, the idea of legislating away the hazards of flying ice in Connecticut in the wintertime seems a bit quixotic.

Winter in New England is full of weather surprises, some frozen, some not, like 50-degree afternoons followed by below-zero mornings, which is a little like a Downton Abbey tea at the library followed by a Niagara-like deluge through the ceiling tiles. Unfortunately, this is not just a simile; it is part of what this winter has given us so far in its short three-week tenure. We have also learned (the hard way) about the “polar vortex,” which wobbled off its normal arctic axis early this week affecting more than 187 million people as it swooped south through the middle of the country, stranding travelers on trains, in airports, and on the highways. At one point on Tuesday, every state in the nation was experiencing subfreezing temperatures. (Yes, even Hawaii. The weather station at the state’s highest mountain, Mauna Kea, reported a temperature of 21 degrees.)

While we cannot extend Connecticut’s new legislative ban on flying ice to include the kind that flies directly out of the sky at us, we can improve our chances of weathering winter this year by broadly adopting the principle behind the new law: be helpful and not harmful to others. It applies not just to the rules of the road but to everyone who may need help in cold and hazardous conditions. It means keeping an eye on neighbors who may be elderly or infirm, providing a jumpstart to the mom with a dead battery and a car full of kids, or shoveling out the mailbox for a postal worker. While we’re at it, let’s come up with whatever support our sodden Booth Library needs to get back in operation quickly. (To donate go to www.chboothlibrary.org, and under the “About” heading, select “Donate To The Library” or mail a tax deductible donation directly to C.H. Booth Library, 25 Main Street, Newtown CT 06470.)

Taking on a newly minted winter that has unleashed its powerful polar vortex upon the lower latitudes may make us shiver and shake as individuals, but together, helping each other, we can all warm to the task of weathering another winter.

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