I’ve been hit with a bit of writer’s block lately, which is super-annoying, because I want to update my blog, I just don’t know what to write about. And then my friend sent me a link to some super cute backgrounds, and I feel like I need to pretty-up the place, but I can’t make a decision on which one, and you have to change all the colors, and OH THE WORK. And then I was reading another blog, and I saw there is this writer’s workshop, by Mama Kat. So I thought that perhaps I would give it a try. And one of this week’s topics is your worst winter weather story. And while we were just teased with winter storm warnings and promises of 12 inches of snow and blizzard warnings, we didn’t get much of anything, and while I am annoyed by that, I am grateful we didn’t get an ice storm.
It was the winter of 1991, I believe. I would’ve been in the 7th grade, smack in the middle of the terrible years known as middle school. (Wanna kill a kid’s self-esteem? Lock them in a building with other self-loathers for 3 years.) Anyway, I remember there was lots of talk on the local news and amongst the adults about a winter storm we were about to get. Our shop teacher, I can’t remember his name, but he drank gallons of Mountain Dew to stay sane around preteens with power tools, told us to go home and chant “Ice Day,” three times. So I did. (anything to get out of going to school) And little did I know what effect that would have on the next week of my life.
I don’t really remember waking up and not hearing that there was no school, although I have a vague recollection of sitting in band class and looking at the clock, waiting for the time when my bus would get there. School had been let out early, but once they decide that, the high school kids get to go home, and then the rest of us waited for their buses. I think we got to go home an hour early. The bus ride was uneventful, maybe it seemed like it was raining. But nothing awful or traumatic, that came later.
The next day, it was declared that there was no school, and at some point pretty early on I think, we lost power. (my memories are quite vivid, as you can tell!) I thought nothing of losing power, except you couldn’t flush the toilet, and all meals had to be cooked on the gas stove. My mom was raised on a farm, so it seemed like this was no problem. But I clearly do remember walking down Woodcliff Drive.
The neighborhood where I was raised was kind of idyllic, looking back. It was pretty heavily wooded on my street, large oak and maple trees that had been there for 50-100 years. There was one entrance into the neighborhood, and it was pretty much a large circle with a few cul-de-sacs. We lived on the main drag in a cul-de-sac. Kids could go out and play with no fear of being hit by speeding cars, or being accosted by some stranger, since we knew everyone. And even if it was someone you didn’t know, there was someone outside who would notice if you were taken away in a Chester-Molester van. There was a steep wooded hill behind my house which led down to the river, and I spent many afternoons playing either on the hill or down by the river. And no, we weren’t stupid enough to get too close and fall in and drown, that’s what other kids did.
Walking that first day down the street reminded me of a newly discovered planet on Star Trek. My dad was really into Star Trek: The Next Generation back then and the combination of the stillness and the accumulation of ice on the trees was breathtaking. My parents probably looked and got sad, knowing that the weight of the ice would be too much for the trees and we would lose many, old branches, and that the entire look of the street changed that day. But I didn’t know that. I just walked and stared at the bare branches, encased in glistening, shimmering ice. Teeny sticks that were ¼ inch thick had 2 inches of ice surrounding them. No one else was out while we were taking our walk, and so it seemed like a deserted planet for that short amount of time.
And then I began to realize what “no power” truly meant. It meant that sleeping on a waterbed that had no heat source was a REALLY BAD IDEA. It meant that you had to go to the YWCA to take a shower. It meant that you should not go near the electrical wires lying across your backyard. It meant only flushing the toilet every once in a great while, no TV, and it meant that when everyone else in the neighborhood got their power back, you did not, because of the aforementioned wires lying on the ground.
After a week of no electricity, and the day that our next door neighbors got their power back and we didn’t, my mom lost it. I’ve rarely seen her lose her cool before, and while I am sure that this wasn’t the first time, it was one that I definitely remember. Because it sent my dad scrambling to the power guys who had moved on down the street. From what I remember, he basically begged them to come back to our house. He understood that they had worked several days straight, and that the reason that things were taking so long is because our power lines were on the ground, and they were focusing on getting as many houses back at once, and power lines to one house just wasn’t as important. But somehow, someway, he made them understand that WE were important. We (more importantly, my mother) needed power. We needed it days ago, and we had been patient, but we couldn’t be patient anymore. And you know what? Those guys came back, and they turned our power on. I don’t know if my dad tipped them, or called their supervisor to thank them, but he should have.
That is my worst winter story. I don’t remember losing power, missing school, playing outside, and sitting in front of the fire. I remember a friggin’ cold ass waterbed, not being able to flush the toilet, and just getting sick of living like a caveman. It’s entirely possible I even went and spent the night or two at a friend’s house, but I don’t really remember. I just remember thinking I hoped to never have to live through an ice storm again.