The commuting challenge continues. Here’s a new wrinkle: microclimates. I drive one hour to work. It takes 20 minutes from my home to Stowe, another 20 minutes to the interstate, and 20 minutes along the interstate and to the office.
The big surprise is that weather can be dramatically different from home to office. The day before yesterday I left a bit early to avoid the blinding snow squalls which were not only to hamper visibility but also to cause dangerous road conditions. For the first forty minutes there was almost no snow, but then at the edge of Stowe Village, it was as if I had dropped over the edge of the world into an arctic village. Snow, lots of it, blinding drivers and bringing traffic to a crawl. Twenty minutes expanded, I don’t even know by how much, so focused I was on the taillights ahead of me. At last, I could creep up my icy hill to welcoming dogs. Ahhhhh, home.
Yesterday, the reverse. The icy hill, always the first challenge, is plowed by two different towns, so conditions can be different between here and the dump half a mile away. Then messy roads in Morrisville, not so bad on the road to Stowe, and a terrible slick patch right in the middle of Stowe Village. I saw the car in front of me slide sideways, so I was prepared with a correction when my car did the same. Steady improvement in driving conditions eased my tense shoulders for the second leg of the journey, then the third was as if no snow storm had ever occurred.
In fact, there was only a dusting over there in the “banana belt,” warmed by Lake Champlain, as compared to another (yes, another!) six inches at my house. I suppose I must be more tolerant of the failure of area network news stations to accurately report what is going on at my house. It is not uncommon to see a storm with 2 inches of snow in Burlington, 6 inches at my house, and a foot in the Northeast Kingdom. They have area spotters who report on local accumulations, but it is not nearly so interesting to know after the fact how much snow came as it would be to know what was expected. Microclimates.
Still, I think I prefer living in the “snow belt” and commuting to the “banana belt,” rather then the reverse. If I am going to be stuck somewhere, I want it to be at home with dogs, food, and a big pile of wood. And it is comfort to know that if I make it off the icy hill, conditions will be better and better all the way to the office, with the exception of Stowe Village. For such a wealthy little town it is hard to understand how Village roads can be so much worse than the rest of my route, but I don’t spend a lot of energy trying to figure it out. Instead, I slow down, focus on the car in front of me, and try to breathe through Stowe.
At least a little, I can see now why people keep asking me if I will move closer to Burlington. Not yet, for sure, not until I have a better sense of what this new life will be like, and I really do love where I live. But I can see how the commute could wear. In a way, though, it is a lovely thing to have the world of work and the world of home be physically separated, whether by migration from microclimate to microclimate or—as I have had in past situations—by crossing water. The ability to draw that sharp line is, I believe, restorative to the spirit.