Jonetta Rose Barras: Short legs and snow

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Local,DC,Transportation,Jonetta Rose Barras
By Jonetta Rose Barras

"Your Arms Too Short to Box with God" wasn't just a Broadway musical; the phrase also served as recognition of man's limitations. I was certain, however, that I could handle Mother Nature and her serial snowstorms. Then came Sunday.

I was standing on the corner of 14th and Rittenhouse streets NW, dressed in four layers of clothing, snow boots, hat and gloves -- ready and determined to make my way the six or seven blocks to the Safeway supermarket.

No, I wasn't on the hunt for bread, milk and toilet tissue. (Can someone please explain the rush for that combination? The moment meteorologists predict snow, lines of folks holding those items begin forming at supermarket checkouts throughout the region.)

My assignment was simple: honey for peppermint tea. The sidewalks around my apartment complex had been shoveled. And geared up as I was, I was certain there wouldn't be any complications to achieving that goal.

But there I was, near the place where the curb was supposed to be, facing a mountain of snow, wondering how I would cross into the street. Go for it, I told myself. I lifted my legs and stepped right in. Down, down I went. The snow reached above my knees.

Ever heard of digging legs out of the snow? That's what I had to do. I rolled my recyclable Whole Foods shopping bag tight and began the process.

Yes, I hate snow. I'm a New Orleans girl. I live for hot and humid.

When I arrived in the nation's capital in the late 1970s and experienced my first real storm fall, I was ready to leave. But, say what you want about the District government -- and I say a lot, much of it unflattering -- the city is absolutely gorgeous in the spring; delicious in the summer, especially after tourists leave; and romantic in the fall. Then, of course, there are those wonderfully entertaining political dramas provided free of cost by elected officials; who would want to escape all of that?

On Monday, I had yet another episode of sinking and digging. By Tuesday morning, when I sank for the fourth time, I seriously thought about New Orleans: The recent election of Mitch Landrieu as mayor, the Saints' Super Bowl win and the possibility of eating my sister's crawfish bisque made an escape extremely inviting.

After every snowstorm, I am reminded that pedestrians are the Rodney Dangerfields of the District. Everyone is focused on clearing the street. Forget residents who walk or prefer public transportation. (Oh, don't get me started on Metro.)

There is a law, however, that mandates property owners shovel the sidewalks in front of their homes and businesses. Often, that ordinance is ignored. Not surprisingly, no one is penalized for violations. Earlier this week, Department of Transportation spokeswoman Karyn LeBlanc told me the city has been reminding citizens that they are required to clear sidewalks.

That's not enough. Ticket them. Ticket them all!

Jonetta Rose Barras, host WPFW's "D.C. Politics with Jonetta," can be reached at Rosebook1@aol.com.
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