Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Uphill, Both Ways

     The February that sticks in my mind as the most memorable would have to be the one where Wolverine, my long-awaited and much beloved baby brother, made his surprise entrance into the world a full two and a half months early.  After that, the second most memorable would have to be the Blizzard To End All Blizzards.  Before you land on me with stories of your childhood trips to school in six feet of snow with no shoes and your little sister on your back, please understand: I live in the South.  Snow, when it happens, is usually light, messy, and sticks around just long enough to be a pain before it melts away.  I loathe snow and everything about it, but thankfully, mercifully, I am not forced to endure very much of it.

      Except for that Blizzard To End All Blizzards.

      It was a rather cold February and my skin burned with a taunting reminder of why I don’t ski, snowboard, or ice skate.  The weather forecast called for heavy snowfall with “substantial accumulation”, but I rolled my eyes.  I’ve seen schools closed for two days waiting for “substantial accumulation” that amounted to little more than a half-dozen lonely flurries skittering across a dry, deserted parking lot.  It’s like “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.  How was I supposed to know this time it was for real?  Local Grocery was swarming with panicked doomsdayers hastily snatching up tiny bits of firewood at 10 bucks a bundle and milk at 8 bucks a gallon.  It was pandemonium, and I refused to take part.  By the time I got home, snow was falling at an alarming rate and the wind was starting to sound like an ominous background track to a horror movie.  I was beginning to realize that, though the last 600 warnings for “significant accumulation” were bunk, number 601 might have some merit. 

      My house is in the country.  It’s a nice house with all the modern conveniences, but it is rural.  As I saw the snow falling and heard the wind howling, I started making “just in case” preparations.  I filled the bathtub with water so we could still flush toilets, brought in a few logs of firewood, and closed off back rooms.  The Yankee looked at me with his eyebrows up to his former hairline.  “What are you doing?”  I dropped my load of firewood on the hearth and moved to the kitchen to fill bottles for drinking water.  “I’m preparing for a romantic interlude with Jamison, our butler.”  He rolled his eyes and went back to his TV show.  Moments after tucking Buttercup in for the night, the power went out. 

      Now, when I say, “The power went out,” I must tell you what this means:  No water.  No heat.  No means of food preparation.  No entertainment.  Nothing.  Nada.  And because of our rural location, the power company has put our house on the bottom of the bottom of the bottom of the priority list.  We are about 47 steps down from the circuit that runs the nightlight in the outhouse at the bottom of the cow field on the other side of Farmer Peterson’s deer stand.  When the power goes out in our neck of the woods, it stays out.  I hate the fact that it is freezing cold and boring, but I choose to make the most of it.  The Yankee, being himself, is extraordinarily grouchy about the whole situation and resigns himself to hibernation and a diet of beef jerky while he waits for his beloved television to work again.  I decided that my child would NOT be living off potato chips so I pull out the trusty iron skillet collection.  “How do you want your eggs?” I ask The Yankee.  He opens one eye and stares at me.  “How are you planning to cook these?  Over a candle?”  I inhale deeply and count to 10 so I don’t say what is on my mind.  “No dear,” I drawl with saccharin sweetness, “I was planning on makin’ y’all some lil’ ole eggs in this here skillet over the fire.”  He turns over in his chair and snorts, “Yeah.  Good luck with that.”

      Ten minutes later, he awakens to the sizzling sound of fried eggs and poetic justice. 

      Three days later, we make it out of the house.  The snow has formed a barrier as far as the eye can see and the truck is barely able to make it over the frozen speed bumps of ice and snow.  Smelling like a fireplace and armpits, we make it to Mom and Dad’s for a hot shower and food that doesn’t taste like a smoke pit.  It is an amazing feeling and I vow to never again take the simple things for granted.  On our sad journey back to the Igloo (as we lovingly christened our house), we stopped by Save-More Club to pick up some supplies. 

     As I wander the aisles, I can not locate a single winter-related item.  No chem logs.  No firewood.  No ice melt.  After walking for a half hour, I finally find an employee.  “Excuse me,” I began, “Where would I find the winter supplies?”  She looks at me and over-enunciates like I’m a complete buffoon.  “Uhhh, this is Feb-yoo-wary.  We don’t HAVE winter crap anymore.  We cleared all that out six weeks ago to make room for pool chemicals.”  I was stunned.  “First of all, there is an ‘r’ in Feb-roo-wary.  Secondly, Spring is not officially here until the Vernal Equinox on March 20 so this is still, indeed, WINTER.  And Third, who on God’s green earth is worried about a swimming pool when there is three feet of snow on the ground?!”  She just smiled as if to say, “You poor dumb customer.  The whys and wherefores of merchandising are far above your meager understanding.”  I make it back out to the truck.  “Well,” said The Yankee, now sorry for rolling his eyes at me days earlier, “What did you find?”  I sighed, “A size-6 string bikini and chlorine shock treatment.”  Back we sauntered to the Igloo and waited for the storm to be over. 

      Our power came back on after 5 days.  The house smelled like a chimney, we were starting to smell like armpits again, and I longed for a meal cooked in a warm kitchen on a functioning stove with the strains of Dean Martin annoying The Yankee in the background.  Speaking of The Yankee, he got on board with the whole “ingenuity” thing.  We now have a camping stove so I don’t have to hover over the fire place with a skillet anymore.  He’s stocked up on firewood and bought a kerosene heater.  There will probably be another 600 forecasts for “significant accumulation” before we see another Blizzard To End All Blizzards, but I’ll trudge through ... uphill, both ways.  

© Bertha Grizzly 2012.  All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or distribution.

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