Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Mais où sont les neiges d’antan? But where are the snows of yesteryear? *

with 20 comments

Blizzard of 1947

Click to bring the past closer.

Pictures on television this morning of people in the Northeast digging out after the Blizzard of 2013 seem to call for this one showing the aftermath of the Blizzard of 1947. It’s not the only photograph ever posted here that I appear in, but it’s the first one ever from Long Island and the first one I didn’t take myself. You won’t see any native plants in this picture, but as I keep saying, variety is the species of life.


* The title of this post is the famous refrain of a ballade by the medieval French poet François Villon, with the English rendering of that refrain by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. You can read English and Old French versions of the poem, and learn more about it and its influence (even on an episode of Downton Abbey), in an informative article.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 9, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with ,

20 Responses

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  1. Very sweet. The first time I saw snow, I was 4 years old (in East Texas). I refused to walk in it, fearing it would dissolve my feet like acid. (Odd child!) My parents were completely exasperated with me, and refused to carry me to the car. However, my godfather was visiting, and he agreed to carry me so I could carefully watch his feet and see that they did not dissolve. I am forever grateful to him.

    Vicki Bell

    February 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    • That’s a great story you tell. It’s funny how children can perceive things in ways that adults find strange. You must be grateful to have survived and still have undissolved feet you can walk around with.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2013 at 10:33 AM

  2. That was some deep SNOW. Looks like you were maybe 3 years old in that pic. Can’t tell for sure since I can’t gauge your height and can’t see your face. Nice memory of you and your dad in some deep snow.


    February 9, 2013 at 10:08 AM

  3. Une très belle photo Steve, je ne savais pas que tu connaissais François Villon. “Dites-moi où n’en quel pays, est Flora la belle romaine, Alcipiade née Thaïs, qui beauté fut trop plus qu’humaine…” belle balade du Temps jadis! J’espère qu’il n’y a pas trop de dégâts dans ton coin.


    February 9, 2013 at 11:06 AM

  4. I survived the blizzard of ’77 just outside Buffalo. You do get weather in the States.


    February 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

  5. Love it–reminds me of the snows of my youth in the Mid-Atlantic.


    February 9, 2013 at 12:49 PM

    • So that makes two of us, with me not that far north of you. I can still feel what it was like to shovel snow in the stillness with an aluminum snow shovel.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

  6. What a tender photograph. I have one of myself with my mother at about the same age – me, bundled up, she in a lovely dress and no coat. It was taken just outside my grandparents’ back door, and I suspect it was at Christmas. I probably had a new snowsuit.

    After reading Vicki’s comment, I laughed to find “Bertha of the Big Foot” tucked into the poem. She also was called Regina pede aucae, the queen with the goose-foot. I can just see her trucking across Long Island’s blizzard with her broad feet. No need for snowshoes, there!


    February 9, 2013 at 4:11 PM

    • You might say I followed in your footsteps after you included several childhood pictures in your post four days ago. And yes, Vicki’s comment coincided so well with the mention of Bigfoot Bertha in Villon’s poem. As for snowshoes, on Long Island we wore galoshes instead.

      You said you have a picture of yourself with your mother at about the same age; I assume it was my mother who took the photograph I posted. If the picture you mentioned was taken around Christmas, so would mine have been, given that the 1947 blizzard began on December 25.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2013 at 5:21 PM

      • Here we are – me and Mama. I suppose an early kind of color film was used? Most photos I have from those childhood years are black and white, but a few have this strange tint.


        February 9, 2013 at 5:42 PM

        • Just as you described it. My guess is that the picture was once closer to being normally colored but has faded over the decades, a common fate of many color prints from the middle of the twentieth century. Black and white prints were much more stable, and most of the ones I have from that era are still in pretty good shape (except for scratches, fingerprints, creases, and other external affronts they may have suffered from poor handling).

          Steve Schwartzman

          February 9, 2013 at 6:02 PM

  7. Now that’s sweet. Reminds me of growing up outside Chicago, where shoveling the driveway was my assigned responsibility. We got off light here, 10-12,” but just over the border in CN, they really got smacked.

    Susan Scheid

    February 9, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    • I’m glad you like it. I expect that a lot of us were childhood shovelers of snow and that we’ve internalized the experience, even if we haven’t shoveled any snow for decades.

      I saw on television that, contrary to predictions, Connecticut got the greatest amount of snow.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM

  8. Your photo shows some deep snow!
    I remember deep snow in NJ…brrrrr We used to dig out snow forts and caves from what the snow plows pushed to the curbs of the street.


    February 10, 2013 at 7:03 AM

    • Deep it was, especially for a little kid. New York got around 26 inches of snow in that blizzard. What typically happened in blizzards, though, was that the wind would blow the snow around, leaving places where there was only a little on the ground, and elsewhere snowdrifts that were three or four feet deep—something you no doubt got to see in New Jersey. As for the plows, they cleared a lot of the snow off the streets, but in the process often buried parked cars with it. So people had a lane clear to drive but no way to get their cars out onto it without some intense digging.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2013 at 7:23 AM

  9. Although the snow was fun for the kids, I remember my dad having to get up extra early to dig the car out of the driveway to get to work. Probably it was one of the reasons the space industry in TX, AL and FL looked so attractive to him, and so we moved south.


    February 10, 2013 at 7:27 AM

    • And so did I. Even as a kid I remember often feeling cold in the long New York winters. I’ve traded them for six-month-long summers that my body finds much more tolerable. Now if we could just get a little more rain each year….

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 10, 2013 at 7:49 AM

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