Alternate Side Parking: A Daily Adventure in Mindfulness


So a few years back I made the bold decision to relocate to the Midwest. And most of the year Madison is beautiful and easy to live in. For example, the bounty of the Dane County Farmer’s Market Saturdays on the square that one can form delicious meals from or the four lakes that surround the city and can be enjoyed in a plethora of ways, especially at sunset. But then WINTER arrives, and to those of you not familiar with this Midwestern plight, the practice of Alternate Side Parking.

What IS Alternate Side Parking?  Well it’s the city – wide set of parking rules that govern us all to ensure quick and efficient snow removal in the event of a snow emergency November 15th through March 15th. Basically between the hours of 1 am and 7 am your car MUST be parked on the ODD side on odd numbered days and the EVEN side on even numbered days, otherwise you are subject to a $20 fine on non-event days or $60 (and a possible tow) during snow emergencies. 

Sounds simple, right? Well I thought so, and having already commenced mentally checking the date as I pull up to the house and then double checking on my cell to ensure accuracy, was greatly alarmed to walk out to my car and find what I thought was a ticket under my wiper blade. Much to my surprise (and relief) the city has a preprinted card created for citizens and had taken the time to give all of my correctly parked neighbors and myself a “Stay in the Know about Snow” postcard guide to Alternate Side Parking. SO for the first time in my life I now possess a written detailed explanation of how to determine where to park complete with pictures and contact information for an Alternate Side Parking hotline and website in case I still need help figuring this all out. I can also follow this on Facebook or Twitter. Wow.  That’s a total of five options if you include the card.

So I’ll keep playing this parking game. But here’s what I want to know…

How much snow has to fall in order for a plow to actually deem our street plow worthy? We have had a snow of consequence 4 times so far this season…but despite our diligent regime, no plows or sand trucks have been through. This week there has been a marked improvement in the amount of clear pavement thanks to the sunny moments and intermittent warmer temperatures. So now that I am in the know I feel less qualified to navigate the snow season. And a little part of me misses living in South Carolina where people often wear parkas when the temperature drops below 70. I wonder if there is a direction card for dressing for below 70 degree weather…


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