Snow. You gotta love it. Unless you hate it. It’s your choice. This is, after all, still a free country — more or less — depending on which of the 50 states you’re living in or traveling through. Your mileage may vary.
Winter has arrived in Maryland, and it’s nasty. (Technically, it’s not winter until the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, but let’s not be technical.)
Winter is here in Maryland, now. It arrived Sunday, snow and ice, not a lot, but enough to be treacherous. About three inches, if you like statistics, as measured on the roof of my car in Gaithersburg. Last night it got cold — below 32 degrees — and you know what that means.
At mid-afternoon on a very gray Monday — third gray day in a row — half the snow has melted. But never mind, five more inches, give or take, is expected on Tuesday. It could be worse. They’ve had more snow in Frederick County. And more than that in the mountains beyond.
Snow before Christmas is rare in Maryland, but not unheard of. What does it mean? How would I know? I’m a reporter, not a fortune-teller. (BTW, that’s the problem with cable news. The talking heads — pretending to be experts on everything — are not reporters. They’re blatherers.)
But I digress. What does snow before Christmas mean? It might mean that shoppers will catch the spirit. Or it might mean they’ll stay home because it’s slippery out there.
Based on my observations last week at shopping venues in central Montgomery County, just outside the nation’s capital, many stores are on their way to oblivion. Big stores. Small stores. Big names. Unknown names. Their business days are numbered. Unless the malls offer them sweetheart leases, which is probably more common than you think. Business is brisk at Walmart, and in some cases online.
Meanwhile, in defiance of all logic, developers and politicians are scheming to build more bright and shiny showplaces. Always more!
Development has thrived in Montgomery County since the end of WWII. Now it’s in danger of collapse. The ever-expanding federal government workforce and government contractors have fueled sprawling development throughout the region, all the way to West Virginia.
You’ve heard of “peak oil?” In the National Capital region, we’ve reached “peak federal employment.” Reached it some time ago. It’s in decline and unlikely to bounce back.
But as usual, I digress. Enjoy your snow, or curse it. It’s a free country. I think I’ll go outside and observe, the better to report back.
— John Hayden