The record snowfall here in Seattle is all over the news, partially because it's just so weird. Snow is squeal-inducing for kids who get out of school and can spend the whole day making snowmen, sledding hills and sipping hot chocolate, but not so much fun for adults required to get from here to there, either slipping on icy pathways or skidding in circles on streets and freeways.
Our family has endured a nearly comical series of weather-related events that inspire gratitude for the normalities of life.
A few days ago, we learned that our main water line from the meter to our home had sprung a massive leak. In the process of digging a trench for the replacement pipe, a worker clipped our phone line. Then the snows came.
At first we marveled at the winter wonderland, confectioner's sugar dusting the firs and piling on our patio furniture. But soon it became serious, as five, six inches of snow caused the closing of schools, canceling of classes, curtailing hours at businesses and the gym. Our temporary water pipe was subject to freezing. I could no longer navigate my non-four-wheel-drive Mom-car up the hill to get out; as temperatures cooled and re-froze, dangerous ice accumulated on the ground.
Our son, ticketed for a visit home on his college break, spent five hours in the airport due to plane cancellations into Seattle. My husband, due at an important business meeting near LA, found his 6 am flight cancelled as he drove--five miles per hour--to the airport; I spent 40 minutes on hold with the airline (on my cell phone--our land lines were cut, remember), which never did get to me.
Then, the power went out. The house chilled colder by the minute with no furnace. I prayed my cell phone would retain enough juice. But it's almost relaxing to be stuck, even if bundled in many layers of down--can't use the computer (no router)--a good excuse to catch up on reading. Until 4:30, when it gets dark.
When things go wrong, you get grateful for what's right. While without water for days, brushing teeth and cooking meant sparing sips and drips from bottles only. Flushing a toilet was suddenly a wonderful luxury; washing hands afterward, an issue. Taking a shower was something done at somebody else's house.
No power in freezing weather means wearing enough to mimic the Michelin Man. You put refrigerator contents outside, where they'll stay cold. Days later you find splotches of wax on counters and floor from the candles you've carried from room to room. You wonder how civilizations managed until the 20th century.
We were very fortunate and, thank God, safe. My husband never went to his meeting, but somehow his boss and colleagues got along without him. We were able to ride in an all-wheel-drive vehicle to friends who had electricity. Our son's flight eventually made it, and after several hours, our power returned. The yard is decorated by a snowman, and about seven inches of crunchy snow have collected on our driveway. School's off again tomorrow, and we have a week to remember.