When the biggest winter storm in 60-ish years came through our part of the country in the first few days of February, it manifested as a mix of ice, freezing rain, and snow. I'm usually pretty intrepid when it comes to snow--heck, I walked to school last year when we had our version of snowpocalypse--but this was different.
Tuesday morning wasn't horribly bad--it got warm enough for me to chisel my way into my car with a potato masher. But it got progressively worse... And I had an evening class to think about. I hemmed and hawed about whether to cancel class, which I hated to do--that's the group I only meet with once a week.
I went out to move my car from the far parking lot to the closer one at 4:00, and what would normally be a 10-minute errand took me half an hour. On my way back into my building, I slipped twice on what looked like perfectly fine walkway. That scared me. When I e-mailed students to ask about how things looked on their side of campus, I kept getting reports of people falling. And this was *after* the university buildings & grounds staff had already been working all day on clearing & salting the walkways. So I relented, canceling class and heading home a little after 5.
Boy, was I glad to be home that night! As the rain/sleet/snow continued to fall, Dexter and Patrick and I had a nice, comforting dinner of leftover curried chickpea stew with rice, made some popcorn, and sat down together in front of the teevee to watch some episodes of King of the Hill (which Dexter recently discovered & likes; we have to be a little bit careful, though, about which episodes he watches!).
Every once in a while the lights would dim or flicker, and I'd worry. Our stove is electric, so if the power goes out, we're in pretty bad shape. The only thing that would still work is the hot water heater.
And as the evening grew into night, the noises outside started: sounds of branches and trees, loaded with ice, crashing to the ground. It was awful.
Our next-door neighbor has lots and lots of tall, thin trees growing alongside the fence between our back yards. And one by one, about half of those trees (or significant pieces of them) came down. At 8:00 it got really bad, and one tree came down just inches from our back window--the one next to the couch where we were sitting. All three of us jumped up and darted to the other side of the room!
Bedtime rolled around and the crashing was still going on outside. It was scary. We hoped for the best and went to bed.
The next morning, thankful that our power was still on, we looked out the windows at the things we'd been hearing all night. Trees down everywhere. Wires down at various places on our street. It was amazing.
Even before eating breakfast, I pulled on my boots and took my camera outside and took about a bazillion pictures. It was so unreal, so strange; I think I kept taking picture after picture in part because I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing...
This tree, amazingly enough, did not break, but it sure made a lot of noise as it arced itself toward the ground... and its neighbors' branches came down on our roof.
(In a couple of places, the branches that cleared the fence kicked back when they landed & put holes in the bottom of the fence... woah!)
I think one of the things I wasn't prepared for was how stark the broken-off tops looked on the trees that were still standing.
Another palpable sign that this was a Truly Bad Storm: my school was closed. (Only the 2nd time that's happened in the eight years we've been here!)
(There was ice everywhere AND the power was out... the storm gods were definitely not in favor of marching on as per usual!)
After lunch we ventured out a tiny bit further to the yards adjacent to ours, sticking to walking on the ice-covered snow, pounding footholds in with our heels as we went along; it was just too dangerous to walk on the other surfaces.
Every neighbor had trees and branches down.
And later we ventured out to see if we could sled on this mess. Turns out we could--it was FAST once you got going enough not to break through the top layer!
And as the day went on the temperatures started to drop. On Thursday, school was back on (at least for me), and because of the bitter cold, my car was frozen absolutely solid. Patrick tried for a half hour to scrape, chisel, and water his way into it to get it started & warmed up, but no go. I decided to walk.
This was probably not the smartest decision, I figured out later. I should have called friends to see if I could get a ride with someone; but I figured that everyone else was in the same boat, and that now that classes were on (along with the power), I'd better cowboy up and get myself there on foot.
The prospect of walking to work (about a mile and a third) on ice filled me with dread. I got snippy and cranky that morning, only later figuring out that it was because I was truly scared. I was afraid I was going to fall down and really hurt myself--damage the hardware in my left arm, perhaps, or break the right one, or maybe break a leg.
As I left that morning, I was nearly crying. About a hundred yards into my trek across the back yards (to avoid walking on the streets & sidewalks), I remembered to stop. And breathe. And ask for courage.
As I continued on, all around me I saw signs of devastation, but started to think about them as signs of survival. I had to stop a couple times and relax my shoulders and back--I realized that it was as if I were trying to hold myself up in the air, as if that would discourage gravity from pulling me down. And I looked at the strange beauty around me. (But only every once in a while--had to keep an eye on my footing!)
Thursday's classes were fine, and by Friday even the local schools were back to normal.
So we made it through the storm. And this weekend it's supposed to get up to 40 degrees, which will feel balmy after the past couple days (yesterday our front porch thermometer told us it was BELOW ZERO as we were getting ready to go to school!).
Next time we have an ice storm, I might get a ride with someone. Or cancel a few more classes. But all in all I appreciate the experience, I suppose. Can't say I enjoyed it, but I appreciate it.
I hope you enjoy warmer temperatures soon where you are!
Edited to add: I should mention that the whole time, our power stayed on, and we were really, really grateful for that. We had friends who'd had to spend the night elsewhere, whether at friends' houses or hotels, because they had no heat... We lost cable and internet access for a couple days, but our neighbor let us borrow her wifi. We were very lucky!