Snowstorms continue to entertain us
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 3:43 AM
A long time ago, when my son was just over 3 years old, we moved from Florida to Minnesota. He was born in New Jersey, but had lived in Florida since he was just a few months old. He had never seen or experienced snow. He had only heard about it when we were wishing for, or dreaming of, a white Christmas.
That fall, the snow came early and the first snowstorm was a big one, dumping a whole lot of snow. We woke up on that Saturday morning to a world of white. He couldn't wait to get dressed and out the door to see what it was like. So the first order of business was to don his new snowsuit and snow boots and get going.
Evidently we had not adequately prepared him. Our front door led to a cement stoop, then down three steps to the sidewalk. He ignored the three steps and walked off the side of the stoop directly onto the snow, thinking he could walk on it. After all, how was this different from the sand on the beach in Florida? He soon found out. We laughed for many years about that first experience with Minnesota winters.
He became a real snow lover and snow sports enthusiast, taking up ice skating and skiing. I guess the best evidence that he was a true Minnesotan was a few years later when he never groused at all about having to deliver newspapers, on foot, twice a day for six days a week. We did help him with the car for the heavy Sunday edition. Like the U.S. mail, the weather did not stop him and barely even slowed him down.
My own most-lasting memory from childhood snowstorms was from a family trip. My father was attending a conference in Detroit - likely the roll-out of a new car edition - and we "kids" went along as far as Chicago where we stayed with my aunt and uncle. This was a not-unusual thing to do because it provided a great opportunity for us to visit them, and for our parents to have a little getaway while also doing some business.
We were scheduled to return home from Chicago to southern Minnesota on the day before Thanksgiving. My parents knew there was a snowstorm in the weather prediction, but my father always had great confidence in his ability to get where he was going, in spite of minor things like weather problems.
That time we didn't make it. We got as far as Austin, where, while the road wasn't exactly closed, the highway department was recommending no travel past that point. We lucked out in that there was room left for us at a motel - as I recall we got the last space - and we had to spend the night. To me, that was incredibly exciting and adventurous. And it gave us what was at that time a great story to tell; after all, we were less than 50 miles from home but couldn't get there! I even remember the name of the motel, and more unusual is that it is still there!
This week's storms provided more stories. It really started with the rain. Rain on top of compacted ice is not a good idea. I left very early on Sunday morning, and as soon as I got to the church where I was playing the organ, I called home to tell Spouse Roger that maybe he should not even try to leave home.
I was too late. At the time I was calling, he was getting out of the ditch just down the hill. He decided not to attempt to get back up that hill on the way home, so went the other way and did not make it up that hill either; he walked from a neighbor's driveway. He called the second church where I was playing to give me a warning.
When I got to the critical junction - the point of no return -which was the first hill leaving town, I immediately slid back down. So I gave up and decided to park the car and walk home. After all, it was raining only very lightly and it was not particularly cold. But first, I needed to call home to give the update on the plan that I would be walking, not trying to drive.
Before I could implement that plan, I spotted good neighbor Benson and hitched a ride in his four-wheel vehicle. He made it up both offending hills, the first one and the last one between here and town. Later, Spouse Roger was able to get his pickup truck up the hill from the other direction. The afternoon provided enough melting that we could get to town and pick up the car.
We woke up on Monday morning to a world of white: the rain had finally changed to the predicted snow. Now, on our road and driveway, the snow on top of that ice just finished it off. And this snow was not the desirable light and fluffy kind. No, it was the heavy, wet stuff that clogs up the snow blower on almost every turn.
We both heard tree limbs snapping as they dropped off, sounding much like rifle shots as they broke loose. At one point, Roger said it sounded - and looked - just like Nebraska. There we had experienced what is now called the big Halloween storm, after which the tree limbs snapped off and caused havoc for days on end. "But," he added, "at least here we have electricity." We both laughed, because in the aftermath of that Nebraska storm, we were without electricity for five days!
Not a half hour after he said that, our electricity went off. Given our previous experience, I started gathering up big candles and containers for them, matches and flashlights, putting them in a convenient place. Spouse Roger needed to call someone, but couldn't find the phone number that he was sure had been on his dresser. "It must have dropped behind," he said. Of course those dressers are very big and very heavy, so they haven't been moved since placed there about 10 years ago. We decided we might as well use this opportunity to move them out and find that important phone number. Then I would also vacuum the space. Good plan.
We accomplished the move, and all the while I was wondering how we ever got them into place. I got out the vacuum cleaner. I was about to plug it in when I stopped and said, "Well, duh!" How easily I had forgotten already that there was no electricity. It came back on, but in the meantime it became part of our snowstorm lore.
Everyone who has ever experienced a Minnesota winter has snowstorm stories. Mine continue to entertain me, and I love to listen to those of others. The only problem is, we have accumulated enough new ones for this year. I'm ready for spring.