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One month into my move to Boston I still can’t get over its size. 

That thought was with me again today as my colleague, Tonia Magras, and I ventured out into the city to see how neighborhoods are faring since last week’s big snowstorm. Even back home in Chicago, my Dodge Intrepid could be hard to navigate at times, especially when it came to parallel parking. But as I crisscrossed from Storrow Drive to the residential streets of Mission Hill and Roxbury, I might as well have been driving a UPS truck. The narrow streets, coupled with mounds of snow weren’t friendly territory for an oversized sedan. Nothing made that as clear when simply backing out of a driveway held up an ambulance and caused a passing police officer to scream at me.

I’ve dug out my share of snowstorms in the past and my sympathies are with those who couldn’t find an alternative for their car. Walking around Roxbury with my camera, I imagined the laborious ordeal behind every parkable space that was dug out. But even so, there was still a lot of snow that remained spilling out from both sides of some streets. The uneven shoveling has especially made it hard for pedestrians, which is something to keep in mind as public school students return to the classroom.  

I was in for a (literally) bigger surprise when we traveled over to Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. We found mound after mound of snow – some of which were as tall as almost any professional basketball player – that went on for at least three or four blocks. There were a few bicycle casualties buried under the frost, as well as a couple benches and…a rat (shivers).  At bus stops, there was just enough space carved out for you to get on and off, but across the street the handicapped parking spot still buried in snow had not yet fared as well.

As we were back working in the newsroom, a release came out from Mayor Thomas Menino’s office announcing free Valentine’s Day parking at all of the city’s parking meters. But for neighborhoods like Roxbury and other towns, being able to park on your own street will be the biggest gift of all.