Friday, February 14, 2014

Winter Storm Pax, Part Two....

....and, the first few days of the winter storm Pax, we spent companionably enjoying the snow, and all the things that go with it - 

Children out sledding on the neighborhood hill - which faces north
and REALLY gets the snow/ice. Its great for sledding, but the one
 and only time we had a snowplow actually show up in our neighborhood 
about 3 years ago, it reached the top of the hill, stopped dead and carefully 
backed out of the neighborhood and left us covered in ice. Its a pretty serious hill! 

Sledding is not something kids in South Carolina get to do every day - I mean, snow
is rare here. We can go years between measurable snow fall. So when they 
get an opportunity like this, they sled all day, literally! 
Our other great joy is watching the bird feeder. I think we were the only people in the neighborhood with one filled up and ready to go, so the birds were just all over it, all day long as well. We had Wrens, Chickadees, a bright red Cardinal (and his quieter plumaged mate), Blue Jays, and Mourning Doves. Every so often a murder of crows would swoop in, run off all the song birds, eat their lunch and scatter again, where upon the smaller birds would return. The Cardinal kept burrowing in the feeder for the whole shell sunflower seeds, and taking them aside, would crack them open to eat. 

However, this morning dawned with the snow slowing, then ceasing and the serious question arising...can we get out of the neighborhood? Because Wordweaving was going to have to try to go in to work at noon and the roads were an un-plowed mess. I was greeted first thing in the morning to one of the neighbors putting his car in the ditch in front of our house. I wish to point out, he is from Massachusetts and knows how to drive in this stuff. I watched him, he was careful, slow, and did nothing wrong or careless. And he still hit the ditch. This was not an auspicious beginning to our day. Nor his, for that matter. 

He was well and truly stuck...however, 6 guys, a lever of a long 
rail of wood and fulcrum of a heavy cinder block and some
sweaty effort finally pried the car out of its ominous position
- they did have to push him, wheels spinning, back up to his driveway
there was no traction to be had. What you see is ice from sleet over snow
over ice again.
Wordweaving was very alarmed about this, because like her, the only reason he had gone out was that his employer had required him to come into work today. (Needless to say, he did not make it.) And Wordweaving's turn was next, in a few hours. Temps rose, but light snow continued to fall, and things were no better when she set out mid-morning. She made it further out of the neighborhood than he did, but came to grief about a quarter of a mile from the house, spinning her wheels and getting stuck on a frozen incline. She was loaded for bear so to speak, with extra food and drink, sleeping bag for warmth, flash light etc. However, none of this had to be invoked....she managed to slither backwards, eventually, back down the hill to a turn out, got pointed towards home and managed to make it safely back into the drive way. Called her employer and explained that she had tried, that she was not the first car to come to grief, and she was not coming in, (Insert furious rant about employers who, in terrible conditions, force their employees to choose between safety, and keeping their jobs.)

On towards late afternoon/evening, as the day warmed (we achieved a high of 39 degrees which was a veritable heat wave at this point), Wordweaving and I ventured out in her car into the mess which was now icy slush, rather than frozen iron, and carefully ran several routes and plotted out the safest route for her to try for work "tomorrow". 
Tomorrow being 5 AM, which she will be leaving for about 4:15 AM to be able to drive slowly and carefully to get to work on time. When the temperatures have dropped to about 27 degrees. And all the slush has refrozen back into lethal iciness again. 
Oh frabjous joy. 
And I call 4:15 the middle of the freaking night...not "tomorrow". 

When we got home, we inspected our poor rutted, eroded red slush and icy muck driveway. Not good. However a brilliant idea was evolved. This past summer, we planted a huge crop of tomatoes in 2 gallon buckets, with soil layered on small stones in them (and holes for irrigation drilled in the bottom). The buckets with their soil-and-stone contents were still over by the garden. We hauled the buckets over to the end of the driveway, dumped the contents out, and spread out the soil and in particular the stones and gravel for added traction for her car to grab onto when she pulls out.

The really mucky, slushy icy driveway - imagine it at 4:00 AM
in the morning at below freezing temperatures.

Something obviously had to be done! Hence the earth and gravel from the 
garden buckets....

Which gave us the demented feeling initially as we dumped them out of
building a child's sandcastle with a child's pail and shovel.

Wordweaving just had to immortalize this moment. But you can see behind me 
where we were spreading it out, and getting the gravel into the ruts. Hopefully by
the middle of the night, it will add more traction to a potentially slippery problem. 
Our exploratory jaunt out and our filling in the bottom of the driveway did much to bolster Wordweaving's confidence.   Having done all we could to prepare for the up coming middle of the night journey to come, I turned to a ramble around the neighborhood as the sun began to set. 

Walking around the neighborhood found new friends
had sprung up to greet us....

...and tiny exquisite moments of treasures such as
the pine cones blown down in the pristine snow.

The sun coming out of course
cast its usual stunning beauty on the snow.

And evening was absolutely gorgeous with the
clear, clean light. 

The mountains were vivid in the distance....

And as evening approached, the quality of light became
mystical in the silence of the snow. 

So later tonight I will be getting up to see Wordweaving off, and stay in touch with her by cell phone to see if she arrives and be available if she gets stuck. That however, is Friday, and once she gets home, she is done for the weekend. And the weekend is a 3 day one due to a federal holiday. While I doubt much of the snow will remain, by then, we will enjoy having again some extended days together to enjoy our lives and each other's good company. A little bit more wintry mix is suppose to come in Friday night, but the warming temperatures will keep it from lingering. However, given the rolling winter storms coming down and across the country, who knows - we could do this all over again before the end of Winter. Winter however isn't really bleak. It can be harsh, even unforgiving. Care and preparedness can be important to comfort or survival or both. But it has, as each season does, its own unique beauty and character, that refreshes the heart and the soul. I am grateful for it. 

1 comment: