The chant was everywhere…on Facebook, at whatever grocery store you could find that was open, at the YMCA’s that had power and were housing warm showers and sanity saving work outs, at the Barnes and Noble who had power but no internet, where people were forlornly sitting on the floors based around an outlet to charge whatever device they had in hand…all around you the chant could be heard…”When will the schools be open again so the kids can go back?” Mom’s were scarred everywhere, not by the lack of power but by the lack of school being in session.
It all started as a thing of beauty and to be frankly honest with you, a God send in our house, where we all had stayed up way too late watching a lackluster Super Bowl Game. Gorging on food that our bellies don’t typically see, we all felt a little sluggish the next morn. To be treated to a snow storm, snow day and beautiful vistas the next day was a welcome sight indeed.
Things started to go slowly downhill from there. That beautiful carpet of snow was the heaviest in memory and thus caused the gate to only open partially at the end of the driveway which caused one of the girls who board their horse here to get stuck…which caused Chris to get stuck as we drove down to open the gate manually with a the key…which snapped in half upon trying. With the persistence of our son Christopher, he got it open and with a box of cat litter, a bale of straw and some brute strength, we get both cars pushed out and on their way. We headed back down the drive to tuck ourselves back in again with the gate left open so as to not trap some other wary traveler.
Notice trees are already heavy with snow and the fact that we left gate open.
Local moms breathed a sigh of relief that the three day weekend ended with a two hour delay on Tuesday for most of the area. Roads were treacherous, at best getting Cameron to his bus stop a little after 7 am. Poor kid did not have the two hour delay and what typically takes ten minutes top, took thirty. The rest of the day, much is accomplished as we go to town unpacking merchandise in the barn. Snow pants and ski jackets work wonders up there in this weather! Women all over, get much accomplished in their worlds as the kids are in school. As we picked up kids at the end of the day, rumors began to swirl of more snow and then ice and then all of it turning into rain.
My mind gets diverted from the thought of bad weather overnight as a kind barn sale goer drove down the driveway to tell me that the horses just galloped out onto North Valley Road from our driveway. North Valley Road??? How could they have??? The gate…the gate, which we left open…which is why it was installed, to keep the animals off of North Valley Road!! If you live around here, you know that North Valley is quite a busy road and at rush hour…I panic, yell for Chris to head out in the car with me and drive to the barn to hurriedly gather halters and lead lines. How the heck am I going to get them? As I am gathering everything up, Christopher yells to me that they are galloping back down the driveway!!! I run outside and they honesty look like a Clydesdale commercial. Straight into the barn they run. They were followed by the police who were checking in to see who had let the crazy horses gallop up and down North Valley Road.
They had checked out the scenery and said,” whoa…what the heck were we doing breaking down a door and heading out into that mess?”
They were not kidding and as that day finally ended and the weather reports were spouting on about the snow turning to ice and then to rain, the sentiment of, ” please let there be no heavy rain,” reiterated in my mind. Where would heavy rain go with the snowpack covering all of the drains?
Snow, nor heavy rain was the issue…ice was the enemy.
The entire Northeastern quadrant of Pennsylvania woke up Wednesday morning to an ice covered winter nightmare. The heavy snow laden trees were now covered in a thick layer of ice that while beautiful, was entirely deceptive in its appearance. By sunrise the trees and electricity poles began to give, bearing their burden and destruction ensued.
Our ancient Willow down by the pond
IF you could get out of your driveway, roads were closed everywhere and power was lost in our county for over eighty percent of its residents. Schools were shut down as well as businesses.
What to do with the kids with no power? It was not like they could go and play in the dangerous conditions. As you stood outside you could hear branches cracking and see them falling. That is, IF you could stand outside for the ice covered surfaces. No… sledding or building a snowman was not in the cards. Neither was warming up with a hot cup of hot chocolate or coffee. The idyllic vision of a snow day faded into obscurity as the buzz of chain saws cut the air and transformers created fireworks where there should not have been.
We were one of the lucky ones. We did not loose power…right away, not until after I felt that we could empty all the water filled sinks and tubs that we had prepared. It was not until I posted this adorable picture of Whitebeard who was sitting up on the couch waiting for the Winter Olympics to begin, that the house went dark AND after I received a text from a good friend telling me that the thermostat on her house was reading 38 degrees and I had just asked her to bring her family and sleep over.
As I said, we were one of the lucky ones. We were only without power for 72 hours. Some 10,000 electric customers are still without power, a full five days since the storm in below freezing temps. Lucky again, for we had finally caved in and purchased a generator this past summer after our basement took in more water than the creek behind us could hold after Hurricane Sandy. Living in an old house, the pipes, nor anything else is insulated as it should be, so the generator was put into use keeping heat on so the pipes would not freeze. Whose idea was it to put it underneath our bedroom window? Have you ever heard your neighbors generator before? Or your neighbors neighbors generator? Or the generator in the next neighborhood? They produce enough noise to let someone know that they are still in the land of the living. And that is what we all are in…still in the land of the living, fortunate and blessed as to not loose any lives in this disastrous event. Yes, we were inconvenienced and yes, some still are and yes, many suffered and lost income either by their businesses being closed or lost work days. Some have incurred extensive damages to their property but there is a silver lining to every cloud. The kindness of people came to the forefront, helping each other out. People borrowed generators, milk, bread, chain saws. They checked on their neighbors and provided goods to those who could not get out and do so themselves. Those with power had those without power come and shower or get warm or sleepover. We survived together, commiserated together and kept each other warm together. Yes, the winter of 2014 will go do in infamy but so will the kindness of human kind.
Look on the bright side. We have much to be thankful for…there is school tomorrow…our kids survived without their electronic devices for extended periods of time, as did we and our fortitude has been strengthened…we know we can do it again if we have to…I hope we do not have to!
In the belief of the kindness of our fellow man and woman…