Thursday, November 20, 2008
The Blizzard Of Ninteen Seventy Something
The power went out, and with it, our oil burning furnace, because the controls were electronic. At least our artesian well had its own pressure so we had running water. And the gas stove worked. We closed off the kitchen from the rest of the house and settled in with the oven on. We played games and read books while our parents read magazines and the parts of papers they'd skipped or only skimmed days before. We listened to a battery operated radio for a little bit now and then. We ate well, because each stove burner added more warmth to the room. But we ate weird stuff. First we ate as much as we could from the non-operating fridge, then once it had been out what was deemed 'too long', we ate only canned and other non-perishable things. When it got dark, our dad went to the basement for an old oil lantern, but it was smelly and mother worried it was going to make black marks on the ceiling. And we were pretty bored anyway. So we gathered up extra quilts and blankets and layered them on our beds and nestled in for the night. In the morning, the hot breakfast that was normally a time-consuming chore before school was a welcome change from the chilly night, and was the beginning of warming the kitchen back up for another day of games and crafts and books. Days later, when the snow stopped and the wind let up, we ventured outside in layers of jackets and hats and scarves and mittens over gloves. There were amazing formations, curled drifts many feet above our dad's head by the trees and covering cars and trucks and half of the sides of buildings, with hollows carved out in curves and sweeps. One could clamber up the sloped side of a drift and jump off the cliff side into another bank, or send a sled fast down the side slopes and if you leaned just right, make it curve on the complex curls of the drifts. The highway to town was buried under double digit high snow and until the newfangled trucks with snow blowers could blast their way through over many days of work, we drove across the blown clear frozen wheat field to school. The drama of a winter storm was adventure to us before we really understood the power and danger that were in it and learned to be a little afraid of such things. We were safe in our house with our family, oblivious to the worries of our parents that perhaps the gas would run out or the pipes would freeze or we would fall victim to some medical emergency and be unable to go for help. But snuggling by a fire now, holding warm coffee or hot cocoa, with white snow making lacy patterns of the branches beyond brings back that feeling of safe refuge, of camaraderie with family, of the joy of being alive with people you love.