I made an attempt to go out in the yard and try to dig the evergreens out of the deep snow that is weighing down the branches.
The hemlock looked stripped, with its branches all pulled down.
The little Swiss Stone Pine seemed to be calling for help.
So I put on my ski pants, got a shovel and plunged into the snow at the edge of the driveway, headed to the back yard. It was scary. I sank into snow up to mid thigh. I later measured: that's 28 inches.
It was not light enough to swish through, there is a crusty hard layer about a foot down, which is what is trapping the evergreen branches and pinning them so firmly to the ground. It trapped me in each step, and I had to pull my leg entirely out of the snow, lifting it 28 inches to place the next step. It was truly a frightening feeling. I was only feet from my house, and I knew I would not die in a snowy grave, but a panicky sense of entrapment set in, and made me sweat.
I made it out to the hemlock, but it took a lot of effort, raising each foot so high and plunging back down. I finally was able to dig down and free some of the snow and ice bound branches.
But I fear I did more destruction. Hemlock sprigs were torn off and ripped up with each shovel thrust. There was no way I could avoid damaging some of the fragile branches.
The little Swiss Stone Pine was freed from snow a little more easily. It's smaller than the hemlock, and not as wispy.
But after that, I struggled back in to the house. Just moving in that grasping sucking snow, up to my thighs, was exhausting, and it gave me such a scary feeling of helplessness.
And I think I was doing more damage than if I left the limbs pinned under all that weight. I didn't even try to get to the Austrian pines or to the spruces on the berm or to the poor fir tree by the front door. They all continue to be weighted down, lower branches all but snapped under the heavy load, and entire limbs imprisoned in snow.
I just couldn't do it.