You've all seen those lovely Currier and Ives portraits of snow cascading down while happy youngsters sleigh through the woods without a care on their horse-drawn sleds.
We've got something like that going on in Pittsburgh but minus the sleighs, the sleds, the horses and the happiness.
In less than twelve hours last Saturday night and Sunday morning, a winter storm dumped at least 20 inches of snow throughout the Pittsburgh region causing countless car accidents and forcing major roadways to shut down.
Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell declared the Commonwealth in a state of emergency. For the tens of thousands still without electricity, it's a deepening crisis.
This storm's fury reminds old timers of the November 1950 Great Appalachian Storm that dropped 30 inches of snow on Pittsburgh. The snow may not have been the worst of it. A month later when an unseasonable warm spell hit the region, flooding added to the weather-related chaos.
Days after this year's snow, the Public Works Department acknowledges that Pittsburgh still has downed trees, especially on the secondary and tertiary roads, and that forestry crews are working throughout the night to clear up the mess.
Our house is on one of those tertiary roads where a downed tree branch crashed into our car's passenger window.
In the yard, the snow comes up to mid-thigh. Outdoor furniture is buried. Dozens of icicles, some as long as five feet, are hang off the roof.
Since our house is over 100 years old, it has no garage. The long and winding driveway needs daily plowing even though leaving home is risky.
A path to the mailbox down the road has to be cleared so that the postal carrier office can access it if he tries to make it through. Some days he can and others he cannot.
Schools and some businesses have been shut down for three days with further closings likely.
Supermarket shelves are bare of the essentials. Two days ago, there wasn't an egg or a quart of milk available. Apparently, nothing strikes fear into locals' hearts more than the threat of snow. If I didn't know better, I would think that the grocery chains collude with weather channels to drive business.
As I write, a new storm is hitting Pittsburgh. This one is expected to bring another 6-10 inches. The current temperature is 13 degrees with a wind chill factor of minus 2.
Pittsburgh's five day forecast reads as follows: snow, snow flurries, snow showers, snow and snow flurries. Luckily, I bought earmuffs a few days ago.
All of this is inconvenient to put it kindly.
In my previous columns about Pittsburgh, I've pointed out that its weather cannot be considered a selling point. This summer, we had more rain than I've ever seen and that includes years of living in Seattle and on tropical islands.
Now on the heels of one of grayest, coolest wettest summers in history comes what the Weather Channel calls "February's Fury"
Despite the snow, I still insist that that good weather is only one element in the quality of life. When I moved from California in July 2008, I fully believed that California's sunshine does not salvage it as a place to live. Weather does not make up for budget deficits, urban sprawl, demographic conflicts and plunging real estate values.
According to Kalayjian, I am in complete control of my mood. Outside factors like lousy weather should not alter my humor.
If, in the midst of a ten-day long raging blizzard or endless summer days of drenching rain, I find myself depressed, Kalayjian urges me to read a good book, play soothing music or his best idea of all look at my photo album from my last Hawaiian vacation.
These simple steps, insists Kalayjian, will transform me right back into my usual jolly self.
And I plan to get busy curing my SAD affliction this very morning just as soon as I return from shoveling my driveway.
Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.