Our faucets went dry. My cow lick wouldn’t sit down. Our house seemed cold, dark and alien.
Thousands of Madison County folks surely felt the same.
What a week!
Yeah, that snow was sure beautiful. Like a lot of other parents of young kids around here, I enjoyed watching my 3-year-old daughter look out the window at her first snow. It’s been so long since the last big snow that I was beginning to wonder if she would make it to her teens without sticking a carrot nose on a snowman. That was answered Sunday as the rain drops turned to flakes and we tied that snow hat on her head.
After our quick play in the snowstorm, Addie and Jana headed inside. I walked around our property with a camera, getting a few shots.
The limbs began to pop and fall.
The snow was becoming less beauty, more beast. The flakes fell in large clumps, like a pillow had exploded in the heavens Sunday afternoon. It just kept coming.
I was on the phone with my mom when the static fired into my ear. The phone was dead. The power was out.
It was out everywhere.
Yes, a snowstorm is a magnificent force of nature. But thankfully, such events are met with the strength of human nature. The power outages, the blocked roads, the medical calls, the traffic accidents, the fires — these things were met with men and women who worked through the frigid night and well beyond, trying to help others. They are to be appreciated, thanked in person.
Meanwhile, folks tried to deal this week the best they could. Farmers patrolled their fences with chainsaws, looking for downed trees and limbs that would provide an escape for their livestock.
Several structures suffered collapsed roofs under the weight of the snow. People slid into ditches in their vehicles or felt their feet slip out from underneath on an icy patch.
With the power out, the temperatures dropped in unheated homes. Old quilts were pulled from closets. Extra pairs of socks were pulled over feet. Toilets went unflushed and sink faucets went dry as well pumps went dead. Flashlights were needed to navigate those old, familiar rooms. The quiet TVs suddenly assumed their proper irrelevance in our lives.
I lay awake Sunday night, thinking of how life must have been 200 years ago in Madison County, how the modern conveniences alter this landscape for us in comforting ways. But the rural land is still the rural land. Pull those comforts from us and how do we do?
Personally, I could use some improvement.
Of course, one modern convenience made life more manageable for us. A portable gas heater my father-in-law provided for us kept temperatures in the old house from falling too far. I’ll admit, that gas tank makes me think of something that might be loaded onto an Air Force plane to drop on an enemy. But by morning time Monday, I had made peace with that heater. In fact, it was my new best friend.
On Saturday, we made a family outing to the grocery store, loading the cart to the brim. Later, with the power out, we tried to salvage some of the goods from that expensive trip, putting items from the refrigerator into coolers and setting it on the back porch. A sheet of ice and snow fell off the roof Monday onto those coolers, crushing one of them. I sifted through the white pile. It was a surreal moment for me, digging through this porch avalanche for the milk, for the broccoli, for the little packs of chocolate pudding.
My early childhood is all fragments, these little mental photos here and there. So I often wonder what will stick in my daughter’s mind as she gets older.
“Have you ever seen snow like this before?” I asked her as she used a little stick to help me scrape snow off the car.
“Yeah, I think maybe I did back when I was two,” she said.
I expect those thick sheets of ice, those cold nights under a wall of blankets, those things will remain somewhere in her head.
I know the snow of 2009 will remain with me — and I’m sure, with you, too.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.