“Snowpocalypse!” or, a cold storm and a warm hearth

So named by the ever-subtle Washington Post, :Snowpocalypse was slow to begin. Warm wet snow fell lackadaisically all afternoon, not bothering to stick until after dark.

On Thursday night I paid a visit to the grocery store, a ritual performed by every adult in the metro area, and found our local store devoid of milk, bread, eggs and any fresh poultry, so I bagged a small frozen turkey. Turkey and fixings leftover would make good food to have in a power outage.  This proved to be a good assumption.

My intrepid friends came to help us eat the turkey, but by mid evening the snow was getting thick and we sent them off in their 4wd in 8″ of silvery snow. L and I finished the dishes and watched a bit of news, non-stop coverage of the storm by breathless reporters who apparently had rarely seen the stuff. We congratulated ourselves on being cozy and well prepared. Then the lights went out.

Now I was raised half-suburban, half country and I’m no stranger to bucket flushing and card playing by lamplight. But it seems mellow mid-Atlantic weather and urban life has made me soft. True, we supplement our heat with wood, burning a true cord each  year in our fireplace insert. It’s not one I’d choose, but it does have a blower that circulates hot air around the firebox. When there is power, of course.

It gets so quiet when all the machinery of a house wheezes to a halt. No fridge, no furnace, no fans, no pump. And the snow stops the outside world as well: no airplanes, helicopters, no local traffic and no highway whine. Despite living in the woods, the traffic noise is notable when absent.

It was dark as tar and quiet in the house. The world of snow outside was glowing, although from no moon nor electric light. The night air seemed luminous, filled with snow crystals, and all the limbs and leaves are coated in white, the ground a reflective blanket.

Well, at nine-thirty on a Friday night  there was no better thing to do than to go to bed. With two large dogs and two quilts, one down-filled,  I  was completely warm and snug.

In this house, no power means no stove for cooking. But we are on the ‘city water’ so we can flush and wash up. Neighbors with wells are not so lucky. When the lights go out, so does the water. But some of them have gas cook stoves, so we each have our advantages.

We kept the fire burning and by morning had good coals for cooking. But one important thing I overlooked: ground coffee! But soon there was hot water, and a strong cup of tea. Later my aunt told me a mortar and pestle would serve to grind beans, and voila! my survival was now assured.

All day long it snowed. Every few hours I’d re-dig my path out to the cars parked at the edge of the drive. The cell battery died, so I shoveled out to the car to plug it in. After a nap, there were over 4 more inches to clear in order to fetch the thing back to the house.

I had pretty severe internet withdrawl, but it was lovely to sink into uninterrupted reading. The quiet is so deep and soothing. I  picked up The Grey King by Susan Cooper. I did the Sunday crossword in the Post, since the Sunday sections were delivered Friday. I wish I had the Sunday paper, but I give our fearless R. a pass for this one! Sometime early Saturday they gave up trying to plough our road.

Today the sun came out. It was DAZZLING. I shoveled us out to the rutted road, not ploughed but less than the 32″ that lay on everything else, and the dogs were ecstatic. They hadn’t been able to run since Friday, and one took off in each direction, galloping down the road.

As I hiked out toward the county road I could see numerous loblolly pines bending low. Near the corner several were half-fallen across the road, explaining why no plough had been through. Even the county road was snow-covered. I could see the trees leaning on the electric lines, but they weren’t broken.

The latest weather forecast called for lows near zero Farenheit. This house has been cold at the extremities for two days, and we were more and more huddled by the fire. I’ve been leaving faucets dripping to keep the pipes from freezing. Another day or two of this and we’d be in danger of that.

So I called the automated system at our electric coop, again. This time I pushed a few extra buttons, and left a message about the trees leaning on the wires. Not long after this I was out shoveling and lo! one of their trucks! Two guys with chain saws were making their way down my road. I waved madly at them. My saviors!

So now, all these noises! There goes the microwave: whirrrrrrrrr. The furnace is rumbling and I hear the water moving through the radiators. I’ve thrown on a load of wash. The blower on the fireplace is helping warm the main room.

And hah! Friends just stopped by with their cooler full of food. They have no power yet and were asking for fridge space.  I’ll go one better: roast their pork loin and help them eat it, and let them take warm showers.

It’s getting cold outside. The snow makes otherworldly sculptures out of a flower pot, a deck chair, a chimenia, and they are turning that dusk blue colour. The sky is a vague peach glow with icey aqua blue above.  And it’s warm around my hearth.

Categories Art

3 thoughts on ““Snowpocalypse!” or, a cold storm and a warm hearth

  1. This is such a lovely, evocative ramble through your snow experience. I feel like I was there with you! You made the the best of it, and that was very nice indeed! Lovely prose, my dear…

  2. Thank you for these magical tales…I agree with your other responders – I feel like I was there with you as well!

    Joni Bell

  3. This was fun to read since we were all having that experience along with you. Great account.

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