As former snowbirds we are accustomed to the snow. It made us laugh just a few months after we moved here and we watched our elderly neighbor (rumor has it she is 92) shoveling the two flakes of snow that had fallen on her driveway. We laughed because two hours later the temperature rose to 50 degrees and everything melted immediately.
Montreal is a city that is totally prepared for a major snow fall. The city sends mini plows up and down the sidewalks clearing the snow from them. Within a few hours, unless there is a major downfall of several feet, the city remains totally mobile and it is most uncommon for the airport to be closed. Kids are thoroughly disappointed because school rarely closes.
The Province of Quebec enacted a law several years ago that no one is allowed to drive a car without snow tires from December 15 – March 15. Steep fines are imposed upon anyone driving without them. We, in fact, decided to buy snow tires here in New Jersey, because we drive to Montreal practically every three weeks and are afraid to drive there without them. Believe it or not, we could not find one store in the area that had snow tires in stock. We finally ordered them from Costco, where they got them from Texas! It amazed us that our snow tires were coming all of the way from the Lone Star State. It took a week, but they arrived and are now on our car.
As well, homeowners in the Cote St Luc-Hampstead area, which is where we lived, across the board have snow removal done professionally by their gardener. It makes sense that you cannot hire someone to just work for you in the winter months during the throes of a major storm. Instead one must hire their gardeners for the entire year to do your lawn work as well. You pay them even if there is no snow—a rare occurrence.
Our gardener, for years, was John Polisena. He inherited the business from his father and we leaned on his reliability to have our driveway plowed early in the morning so that we could get out quickly and be off to work. Fast forward to our new life in Bergenfield. There has been a consistent snowfall for the past few days, which definitely makes the roads hazardous, walking sometimes is treacherous if ice forms on the sidewalks and, nevertheless, we assumed that it would get warm and that the snow would begin to melt. Lo and behold the first time that our driveway seemed clear of snow after we returned home from a Shabbos in Rochester, we credited it to the warming weather, not noticing that all of our neighbors still had snow covering their asphalt. However, several days later in the midst of a greater snowfall, we happened by chance to look outside our window and saw our son-in-law, Chaim, and his son Ezra, shoveling away. Aside from the fact that they are both much cuter than John Polisena and much less expensive, we could not believe our eyes. Another reminder of what it means to live close to family. How remarkable it is to see your children teaching their own children how to respect and honor their grandparents by sharing with them in such acts of kindness and chesed. We would not even have known that our driveway and stairs were shoveled by them had we not happened to look outside. The pride and joy that we feel watching our children raise their children in such a special way is hard to describe. Doing mitzvoth without any recognition is probably the highest form of chesed.
We still remember the day many, many years ago when Zundel Berman, the “seforim salesman” who sold books from his station wagon in Washington Heights outside the YU Bais Medrash, came to tell us that someone had purchased a shaas for us. The donor wished to be anonymous, and although we tried several times to find out in our own devious way who had done this, we were never able to find him. Every once and awhile we think he may be living in Teaneck or in Yerushalayim? We will never know—and again, another chesed which touched us warmly from an unknown source.
Had we not looked out our window just by chance, again, we would not have known how the snow magically disappeared from our stairs and driveway. Magic is not only in Disneyworld, but also on the streets of Bergenfield!
By Mordechai and Nina Glick