Friday, January 22, 2016

Snowstorm in The Country

I had the bad luck to be on a suburban commercial six-lane the night before our big storm of the winter hit. The traffic around the grocery stores was hellish. Even the day before, when I did a little shopping, I found nearly no milk or bread at two stores I regularly visit.

Being well-stocked on both, I just shrugged. I did, however, snag fatayer, lavash pita, and some kibbie at my Mediterranean grocer. One can never be too prepared for a Southern blizzard, a rare-enough event to make folks get a little crazy.  I got in my usual quips in person and online about my favored season to folks who'd just as soon have our state's climate resemble Florida's.

Not me. For a day or two, I can revel in weather that is not all about making us feel comfortable, weather that shows us the universe is not about us and cares little for us, yet is pure and lovely in that indifference. The snow began after 9am, about the time I put up my wife's car in the garage and helped her get a little shelter ready for our flock of pullets, just beside the little coop the four of them use. The older hens, who are just beginning to mingle with the new girls, have a fancy shelter we built  last year, but they are not the sort to be sharing.

As I write this I think we have about 8 to 9 inches on the ground, not bad for 13 hours of snowfall with many more hours of snow on the way. Weather sites online were full of photos like this one I snagged from, of stores practically looted by folks who would only be in their houses, at best, for a day or two. A month ago, shelf-pegs at our locally owned hardware store were groaning with unsold snow shovels. The temperature then was in the 70s. Now I'm betting those cheap shovels have sold out.

The differences in city and country behavior have taught me a lot, every time it snows. We do not loot the stores here, and drivers generally know how and when to employ four-wheel drive. I try to fit in, but I had lessons long before I moved out to the sticks. Most of my life I was a city boy, but my dad, who was never handy in other ways, always had a knack for being prepared. He was the only man on our block who found decent drinking water during Hurricane Camille in 1969, when Richmond had no potable water for weeks and the Army brought in tanker trucks of foul-tasting stuff. Dad said he never wanted a shovel that would break, so he bought two excellent shovels I still own, 35 years later. I repainted them this summer and rubbed Danish oil into the handles.

My own preparations began a few days ago, getting our last big unsplit logs into the barn to dry out a bit, moving split and seasoned wood up the porch, and putting finishing touches on a greenhouse where I'll start plants for our LLC in just a few weeks.  I ran a last load of wood up to the porch in the first snow, checked our root shelter for mice--we've bagged three since my last post--and tidied up the house while watching the wonder outside.

Partly I do these chores to focus me. I think that is why the ritual of looting the supermarket happens, too. It might be too much, emotionally, to think about what Nature tells us about our little personal lives during a blizzard or hurricane.

It can be depressing to think that we fade as fast as fallen snow after the temperature rises. No, I am not at peace with that. Things might end in ice, Robert Frost said in his poem, yet for me ice does not suffice. It does, however, make me appreciate Spring.

Everything ends in ice, according to The Second Law of Thermodynamics. It's daunting to consider that hypothetical ninth plant that astronomers are now hunting, way out beyond the Sun's Kuiper Belt. Its orbit is so distant that Planet Nine could take between 10 and 20 thousands years to circle the sun.  Any snow that far out is not just water and it is eternal.
After that sort of pondering, plowing the driveway and drinking some hot chocolate are more than welcome. Those are things I can influence.

No comments:

Post a Comment