by Ray McAllister

Richmond Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia)

January 4, 2002

They got it right this time.

Well, actually they went too far the other way. A “dusting” turned into – what? – eight inches?

But at least this time, when forecasters said snow was coming, it was.


It was so much of a dusting that schools were closed. It was so much of a fleeting storm that police spent the morning sorting out fender benders.

Forget a blanket of snow.

We awoke to an igloo.

But what a sight.

At first, it seemed impassable. Cars were buried. Roadways were distinguishable only by mailboxes and trees along their edges.

But this wasn’t the snow we usually get – heavy and wet, quick to ice up the roadway.

This was dry and powdery.

“This is a joy,” someone said. “I actually shoveled more than I had to. It was so light and fluffy.”

Sounds more like a souffle.

When last winter’s snow fell (what, you think Richmond gets two?), I advanced the idea that Richmond looks forward to snow.

But just one or two.

We love the beauty, the romance, the return to childhood – and the children themselves somehow are able to cope with missing school.

But anything more than one or two snows, and the city closes down.

Anything less, and Ukrop’s is stuck with all that milk and bread.

But this snow was different from last winter’s.

This was also a quieting snow.

Very quieting.

Attribute that in part, perhaps, to fewer cars on the road. Schools, governments and even businesses were closed.

Attribute it, too, to the sound-deadening a snow always brings.

But attribute it, as well, to the quieting of the soul a big snow brings.

This was a day for jeans, not business suits. A day to play hooky. A day for snowballs that fell apart as soon as you threw them.

It could be Vermont.

Coincidentally, a group calling itself Noise Free America named Richmond one of its “Dirty Dozen” yesterday, a monthly award given for noise pollution. Yesterday, of all days.

Richmond? Noisy?

Indeed, the group claims Richmond encourages extreme noise.

It calls us a “noise paradise.”

The group’s director said: “Richmond has an epidemic of boom cars, loud exhaust systems and loud pipes. It’s the headquarters of Circuit City. NASCAR races are everywhere. It’s a miracle that anyone in Richmond gets any sleep.”


Richmond, Virginia?

In spots, certainly. And yes, if you don’t like noise, hanging around the track during Richmond’s twice-a-year NASCAR weekends is not something you should be doing.

But come on.



The only noise around here yesterday was white noise.