“First-person coverage of the storm. I can’t wait to read all about it.”
The f**k you can’t, since I have no desire to insert myself into the news, especially when it involves my yet again being the most clueless person in town. The official line from the government is nobody got hurt and nothing was seriously damaged during our wee bit of wind and snow last weekend, because Svalbard folks are a sturdy and savvy bunch, so who am I as a know-nothing journalist to challenge that?
On the other hand, three very sweet young women did basically save my ass and contributed to the most physically intimate Valentine’s Day I’ve had in years, so I feel like I owe them something (and since I’m too broke to buy beer, they’ll have to settle for this, unless some folks DONATE TO MY NOW-ACCEPTING-MONEY REDESIGNED WEBSITE).
For those unfamiliar with the basics, a massive storm with hurricane-force winds and lots of snow hit Svalbard at midday Sunday. I decided to get the hell out of the warm and friendly confines of Fruene about three hours later and hole up in my apartment (WHICH, BTW, IS AVAILABLE FOR RENT DURING THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE NEXT MONTH) until it all blew over, supposedly the following morning when a freakish rise in the temperature would turn the snow to rain and make a mushy mess of everything.
This e-mail excerpt to the best man at my wedding (actually a woman I just sent chocolates to and the bride’s name was Stan, but it’s all not quite what you think) explains what happened next:
“F*** did I learn a lesson today. Our blizzard/hurricane, the worst storm since I’ve been here, hopelessly buried my car in a snowdrift in less than three hours. No biggie, except the 20-meter walk to it and back (which took five times as long as a “normal” storm, but still less than a minute or two) froze and drenched me every bit as thoroughly as if I’d jumped in the bay – only worse because all my clothing and every millimeter of skin was saturated with snow crystals the wind had driven through. Kinda like seeing straw driven through wood planks in a Kansas cyclone, that is a no-shit, scary-as-hell testiment to the power Mother Nature can wield when she wants to. To my great embarrassment, three very sweet young women who seem to like the fishwrapper spent about 45 minutes wrapping me in blankets and coddling me until I stopped shivering and a Red Cross rescuer got me home slowly in his ultra-hulky SUV.”
I’d have been (perhaps genuinely) happy if the story ended there, since it’s a good sea story if told correctly (a.k.a. in a way that makes me sound like a ladies’ man instead of a total clod). Of course, there’s still the fact that my car was still at Fruene and, come Monday morning, was burried in seemingly the only massive snowdrift the rain hadn’t pummeled.
Let’s just say that after an hour of digging by several very neighborly folks and an attempted tow by someone following some of the dumbest advice I’ve ever offered, I’m looking at a huge repair bill to replace the rear bumper that got torn apart before The Most Impractical Car In Svalbard (I have the tourist photos and magazine articles that prove you have to be nuts to own a sports car in a town with o roads) regained its freedom.
So this is dedicated to you ladies, including some who were shoveling while I looked haplessly on. I’m guessing it might be more than a little while before there’s any more doting from them again.
– Mark Sabbatini