Blizzard of 2016

I never thought to see a blizzard warning in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I never thought to see it as a 100% Blizzard warning. But here it comes, Josiah. In Virginia we get ice, lots of ice. You see the government shut down with only an inch or two of snow, but the truth is the ice underneath causes such havoc that cars become objects of physical laws. They bash each other, smash each other, and sometimes they put you on TV showing your ineptitude. Yes, snow is coming.

The stores are sold out of everything. We had done our shopping earlier in the week, made sure I had the drugs I need to survive, and picked up the bag of salt or chemical melting agent a week before the weather channel could make up its mind. My niece, Jessie, sent us pictures of the Walmart with nothing on shelves three days prior to the snow warning. Silly Virginians. We’ll have tropical  storm powered gusts of wind. We’ll have cars abandoned along the highway. You won’t find me out there though. I have a book to read, embroidery to finish (the tapestry), hot chocolate (and peppermint schnapps), and a lot of writing to do.

I love the snow. I am looking forward to breaking our little plastic shovel on mounds of wet snow. Perhaps I’ll even make a snowman. I used to do snow angels. I was a fairly bad shot with a snowball. I tried to break a broom over my brother’s head when I was sweeping snow and he tried to take the broom away. I was in snow love mental exclusion mode. I just wanted to sweep. Dad was angry about the broom, not so much worried about my brother’s head and my ego. I think he collapsed in laughter when he went back inside. He laughed a lot when we were out of view. I think we should have had cameras, but no one would believe the simplicity of our life back then.

For Mother’s Day, several years ago, my darling husband bought me a pair of Welles. They even have the seal of the Queen and the Scottish National Arms. Keeping Up Appearances is one of my favorite shows. I know several women like Hyacinth. My husband dodges neighbors in fear for his immortal soul. I have the boots standing by, and I have Hyacinth recorded to watch this evening. We even have enough popcorn for a month. Yum.

Snow brings such quiet to the world. The intense silence is broken only by the idiots who are out shooting ducks in our protected wetlands. They can have a stand and shoot into the preserve, killing with a dozen shots aimed at a small bird that just wants to eat duckweed. I hate that. There is a stand just 6 feet off the shore of Leesylvania State Park that allows them to park at the lot, take the path to the stand, wait for low tide to walk out to the stand, and BLAM, there goes the neighborhood. The ducks are so beautiful. I hunt with a camera. I have no need for a weapon although I am fully trained by the USArmy. I found a wounded duck last winter when I was walking  the dogs. The cold of the Potomac River was all that was keeping the poor thing alive. It had been hit in the gut and still had escaped. Death was following  it. I tried my best to make it more comfortable, moving it out of sight into the long grass. I tried to put pressure on the wound but it was too much damage. The duck was gone by evening. I’m pretty sure the foxes found it. I found footprints that seemed to confirm it. I tried. Sometimes you fail in what you think is an imperative order from a higher place. I don’t mind hunters who are responsible and actually eat what they kill. They have to be one shot hunters, making it count, keeping numbers down of species like deer or the Canadian goose who, just like Minnesotans, moved south and decided they could stay all year. They’ve few natural enemies, just the foxes.

I’m off topic. Yesterday night, I found a friend that I have been looking for, for at least thirty years. I found her on Facebook. Life didn’t turn out according to our high and mighty plans when we were in college. It’s been an adventure. I wrote her about the oncoming blizzard. She lives in Northern Minnesota and is much more acclimated to snow.

The quiet is soothing. No one is going in and out of the house for now, so my husband can sleep all day. UPS will probably not be open tonight. The governor has already declared a State of Emergency. Sand trucks line the roads, their drivers asleep waiting for the 24 hours of panic that will ensue.

Three nights ago, my husband was on I95 when FedEx passed him. The driver had not secured the tandem trailer and it suddenly detached itself. FedEx zoomed  past, but the trailer fell in behind my husband’s set of trailers. He accelerated, but then a small car zoomed in front of him and hit the brakes. Fortunately that was the moment the trailer started to slow down, sending a firestorm of sparks across five lanes of traffic. But that isn’t the exciting night for him, two nights ago, in the muck of the ice, it took him from 5PM EST until 1:15AM to go from Dulles, Virginia, to Burtonsville, Maryland. That’s right outside of Baltimore, he got stuck on the ramp leading to the UPS building. He wasn’t alone. Drivers were passing trucks on the shoulder moving in and out, breaking and leaving no space for accidence. Eric said his truck jackknifed on the turn due to one of these cars. His truck was sent into the shop in December because his ABS wasn’t working. Nothing was done. Then the traction control went, and so did Eric, right off the metaphorical cliff. So he’s been driving a tractor that he red tagged. So here he was, knifed on the exit ramp, and we both learned some really cool things. A fire extinguisher will give you the same results as using salt and sand. The drivers were taking turns helping each other up the hill. It took Eric three hours without the Traction control. Finally, a salt and sand truck came up the ramp close enough to Eric that he benefitted greatly. He called at 1:15 to let me know he was still alive. I now call his tractor the Widow Maker. He’s not going to drive tonight, there is no sense when you can’t really get anywhere anyway.

You can feel the anticipation. The dogs keep running to the door and wanting out.” Sniff, Sniff, Yarf,”they call. They chase the shadows of squirrels around, focusing on laughing more than killing. They love the snow. Tigerlily will catch snowballs and Foxywiggles will bury herself in the snow and then explode back into the world. She tastes the snow flakes.

I grew up with Charlie Brown and tasting snowflakes is very important. I’ve done the magnifying glass bit. I learned that the reason snow is a noise suppressant is the spaces between the flakes, the hollow middle that when compressed loses its ability to shun noise. Snow, an open airy pile of beauty, will suppress noise because of the space between the “stars” or flakes to be more correct.

I used to have small children to play with in the snow. They are grown now and have little patience for an old woman who still dreams of being 8 years old. We lived next to the world’s meanest neighbor when I was a child. He was so scary that no one would go into his yard to retrieve a baseball. Our parents had warned us about being respectful at all times or else. So when it snowed, I would shovel his walk, but never would enter his backyard to do his back yard path. I would shovel the front and the back where the garages were. I never let them know I was doing it, I just did it, like a jack frost character’s nemesis. He finally caught me and laughed. He had just bought a snowblower and was looking forward to moving snow with great zeal. We worked out a deal. I could help on the steps and such, and he would use the snowblower on all the flat places. He was a lovely old man. We became friends and didn’t need to lose any more balls. The brothers of mine had become more interested in basketball. They moved down the alley to a garage with a hoop.

Minnehaha Falls freezes in the winter. The water sneaks small amounts of water underneath the ice and snow layers and the look of watching the water cascading underneath the gigantic icicles and churning its way back under the ice at the bottom and heading to the Minnesota River. The Mississippi boats that go up and down the river freeze into place waiting for the coast guard to come to their rescue. Traffic backs up on the Franklin Avenue Bridge and the Lake Street Bridge. Horns get honked politely. Dogs and children try sliding from any mound no matter how small or tall it is. We would walk on the snow ruins created by snowplows and human endeavors. We dreamed that we were polar explorers. And we had the view of all of the snow forts on the way to school, we could escape a rout by readjusting the path with boulders of snow from the street. We had ice balls, not just snowballs. It was our secret weapon.

My oldest brother was in charge of us. Four little ducklings all in a row, and we obeyed him. He has an air of authority about him, slightly Eeyore like. He had a wicked arm with a snowball and because he was so tall, he was the early warning system.

Our school had iron rails around the grassy spots, and in winter, the iron rail became the subject of bets. There was a pail of water just inside the door of the school kept there for the idiots who licked the rails and let their tongues get stuck. I must confess to licking the rail, but I never froze to it. I guess I was moving too quickly?

Snow. I left the curtain open in my bedroom this morning.  It’s open now. As I sit here doing all of the writing on my schedule I feel like a little girl waiting to use her boots in something besides puddles. Snowy days give me inspiration to write. They give me a force of calm and serenity which I lack daily. Snow lets me slow down and just be happy.

I’ve missed the snow that I grew up with, being from Minnesota and all. I miss watching the kids skate on park rinks and frozen rivers. Last winter I was in Minnesota for a party in honor of a woman who was dying of cancer. I got snowed in like I always do. I watched the skaters on the Mississippi up in St. Cloud. I had no camera with me to catch the moment, but the lights on the rink, clearly marked as a safe zone, have stayed with me. So much energy being consumed. Hats, mittens, scarves, hockey gear, and more, all a vital part of the vision of happiness to me. The fields harvested and the bales of hay covered with white as the fog sneaks in. The barns with their yellow glow of warm calling to milk cows, it’s a wonder I ever left the state. I was smitten by the idea of a world calling to me out there. I think that wanderlust might be a virus.

It still hasn’t started snowing. I catch my breath each time I look out of the window, hoping, waiting. I’m like a little kid wanting that miracle of snow, needing it. Sitting on an uncomfortable cold chair in a classroom that is gradually warmed by the breath of all the students hoping for snow and early dismissal. I’d always list the homework for the day on the blackboard. “No excuses, if you don’t do your homework, it won’t snow tonight.” And then the first snow flake arrives. There is a flurry of pencils noting the homework, kept simple because playing in the snow is more important. Assignment books are initialed and the world fidgets. Squirming and turning their heads made me just aim the desks at the window and have done with it. Creative writing time. “You are a snowflake, please, tell me of your life.”

It was cold, windy and cloudy when the word came down. Here, today, snow. But last night the skies were clear and I could watch the moon travel from east to west through my house. Almost a full moon, but brightly lighting the rooms as I wandered with insomnia. Stars as big as a marble, blinking 5 billion years ago. Morse code? Aliens might love snow. Heaven knows, our climate needs all the water it can get in dry places. I wonder if aliens would understand that a snowball fight is just as ingrained as finding a stick and pretending it is a sword or rifle. Rocks on the ground beg to be picked up and thrown by small boys. They can’t help it. Ingrained instinct and environmental influences make sure the aggressive side of our nature reinforce itself in each generation.

I am wordy today, and off topic or on a new topic, I find it hard to focus. Snow.

I’m just waiting.

Ann

 

4 thoughts on “Blizzard of 2016

  1. Awwwwww I loved this magical story of snow. I was 8 years old when I first saw snow in Scotland where I have lived for over 35 years. As a child I never got annoyed at travelling in snow yet, now the thoughts of driving or walking in snow creates anxiety and trepidation for me. I do love the sight snow when it’s untouched and looks so fresh and clean. The stillness and calm before kids play with the snow and destroy the fresh, clean sight creates mess in my head.
    So you have two dogs? What breed are they? I want to have a small dog one day to keep me active. Hehe

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    1. I love shiba inus. They are the smallest breed from Japan and one of the very oldest breeds in the world. They can live in apartments, don’t bark except when danger is close to hand. They live 14 -17 years, are lovers of walking, ball, sniffing, and digging. They like the beach but don’t go in the water too far. Mostly just the paws get wet. They are very catlike and using negative discipline doesn’t work on them. Personalities to boot.

      I love the snow. Most of it is gone already, and the grass is green and happy from under its blanket. My sister in Minnesota received thirteen inches of snow yesterday. There it is considered a reality, and they can move snow well. My kids are grown and my backyard stays pristine until it melts. I put out food for the birds and squirrels, some homemade, some from the bags at the store. Cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, mourning doves, sparrows, tufted tit mouse, chickadees all charged me when the snow stopped. I have 15 squirrels that must have grown up together. They leap, fall, chase each other and run away from the pups.

      Find a shelter near you for dogs. A rescued dog knows that you are the one that counts. Individual types of dogs have their own rescue groups as well. Look for a dog that comes up and says hello to you with curious ears and a happy face. Dogs do smile. They respond to smiles and gentle voices. Oh, and lots of dog cookies.

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      1. Shiba inu? Ok I am learning more about dogs from you. Thank you so much. I recently had been thinking of going to dog shelter to visit the dogs there and take them out for walk. That is what I intend to do this weekend.
        Wawwww! So I see you are an animal lover just like me! I love squirrels too. Our local park is just two minutes walk from us so that’s our back garden. We have a small animal farm in the park and I would visit often with my youngest son when he was pre school age. The peacock was just amazing when it’s in its full glory. I love to hear the sound of birds chirping in our local park and it’s a blessing to be able to hear them. There are lots of dog owners who take their dogs to exercise them in our local park and I long to be one of them.
        Oh my! Sounds like your sister got more snow than I could ever imagine. Then again, I remember we were snowed in back in the 1980’s when my high school was closed for two weeks and we were walking by lifting our feet up out of the deep snow so that we could move forward and every time my feet touched the ground it felt like a huge effort. It was so tiring and such a challenge. That’s when I started to think snow was more of a burden than a great way to have fun.
        Thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I love hearing about them all.

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