This morning when I went outside in my slick-bottomed shoes, I quickly learned there was a new addition to the snow that fell the day before. My husband and kids could have played hockey in our driveway, it was so frozen. I did my best skateboard crouch and slid down the sidewalk to my car. When I tried the door it wouldn’t budge, so I carefully picked my way back to the house, poured a cup of coffee, looked out the window, and thought about the ice storm of ’94.
I still remember the popping sound that woke me up that night. It sounded like a big bowl of “Snap, Crackle, Pop” right outside my window. It wasn’t until we went downstairs the next morning that I realized what the noise was. Everything outside wore a slick, shiny coat of ice. A tree limb had broken off and landed on top of my husband’s car, smashing in the hood. Three of our five children were school age, and they were ecstatic.
“Yippee, snow day!” they yelled and danced around the den. I was still teaching at the local high school and for a moment I reveled in the feeling of “no school” too, until I realized the power was off. Five children, two still in diapers, no electricity, no running water…disaster!
My sister-in-law’s house was colder than ours, and we at least had a fireplace, so she brought my nephew and came over. By now the kids had discovered that no electricity meant no television and no Nintendo. “What are we supposed to do all day?” they asked.
I got some batteries for the boom box and put in a tape of ocean sounds. Then I stretched out beach towels in front of the fire. “We’ll pretend we’re at the beach,” I told them. “Close your eyes, feel the sand beneath you. Hear the surf. Feel the warmth of the sun.”
“You’re nuts, Mom,” said my oldest son the realist. “That’s not the sun, it’s a fire. This isn’t the beach, it’s the den. And I’m tired of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Can’t you cook something?”
Our friends at Farmers Rural Electric Cooperative worked around the clock. After three days, electricity was restored to our house. By the time the lights came back on the house was a total disaster, but it looked beautiful to me. I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. “There’s no place like home,” I said to the children.
They didn’t hear me. The Nintendo and television were turned up too loud.
This morning as I sip my coffee and look out the window I am happy to be safe and warm in a house with lights, heat, and running water. Happy, but still dreaming of spring.