Sunday, January 12, 2014

A River Runs Through It

What a weird last week we've had here on the farm.  I've lived in this county for over a decade, and I knew how often bad weather days were driven by the western end of the county (the school districts here are by county, which is the weirdest thing I've ever heard of, especially since this county is over 500 square miles and is geographically split).  But being here experiencing the conditions has been an eye opener.

First, we had snow the afternoon of the first day back at school.  As in, it may as well have been an avalanche in slow-mo.  We were supposed to get like 2-4" of snow beginning late afternoon.  It hit before 2 p.m. and didn't stop until LATE at night, when I measured at least 8" on our patio.  But guess what happens between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m?  A little something called RUSH HOUR... which was about the time it turned to freezing rain.  

The Boy got home on the school bus okay, although I met him with snow boots in hand.  He and I skidded our way down the river of snow that was our driveway.  (I had already taken precautions and parked the car at the top of our neighbors' drive again.)  But the Husband didn't make it home because I was a little bossypants and made him go slide the truck over the ice to a friend's house in town.  He stayed the night.

The second day of school in 2014 was cancelled.  Then we had the weekend.  And then no school the following Monday. Nor Tuesday.  And if they had called Wednesday, I would have duct-taped my son to the wall.  Five days of cold winds and arctic temperatures and snow and ice.

Yeah.  Our driveway was no longer a river of snow.  It was a bloody river of ice.  The hill.  The parking area.  The turn around.  All of it.  There was snow frozen under ice which was under windswept snow, and then sheets of ice, and then rain frozen on top of all that.  I'd crunch through a layer, think I was safe, and then slip on the layer below that.

Even the chickens decided to stay inside.  The bravest, our lovely Peaches, took a step out and promptly turned around, hustling the other girls back in.  I was glad I followed them into their coop, because even their HEATED CHICKEN WATERER HAD HOARFROST INSIDE IT.

It was so cold, I was dressed like an astronaut to go out.  The condensation from my breath froze in my eyelashes.  The normal moisture in my nostrils began freezing.  I discovered every last spot in my Columbia winter coat that DIDN'T keep the cold out.

But, we all survived, even if cabin fever was about to lead me to chant, "All work and no play makes Heather a dull girl."  It helped that I made damn sure the Boy made it to karate on Tuesday night.

There was school on Wednesday and Thursday.  The ice was not quite thawing, but at least the temps were back in the 20s and low 30s, so I was able to use the driveway.  I discovered that I had learned a lot already about driving the car in the snow and ice and frozen earth.  I was pretty happy that I never panicked, and could recognize areas that were going to be trouble.

And then we hit Friday.  School should have been cancelled.  I'm sorry.  There was freezing rain that hit around 6 a.m. and continued for hours.  And they called a 2 hour delay, which was okay...except it wasn't.  When the Boy and I left for school, the amount of ice made me nervous, but I felt (semi)confident that I knew what to do as we turned out of our very icy driveway onto our very icy road.  But I followed a school bus for fifty feet or so before we turned off onto a side road toward the school.  The back of that bus was sliding all over the road.  It was terrifying to watch.

We got to school safely; but honestly, I was afraid to drive home.  Our road was pretty darn close to a solid sheet of ice that I would have to go downhill and make a tricky turn into my driveway.  So I asked if I could put in some more volunteer hours.  I wasn't the only parent hanging out.  The last bus arrived thirty minutes late.  I heard all sorts of gossip from around the county.  And when I finally left to go home at 11:30, I heard on the news that there were kids still sitting on buses in other parts of the county.  And that afternoon, I waited for fifteen minutes for the bus when I got called by the school that the bus driver had not been able to get to our road, and would I therefore please come collect my soon from school?    

The weekend temperatures warmed considerably.  Yeah!  But they brought about two inches of rain with it.  Boo!  The driveway was now a river of snowmelt and rain.  All the lovely snow melted in the yard, and I was left with a boggy yard that was so muddy it seemed intent on sucking my muck boots into the ground.  And my chickens looked a lot like drowned rats stilts.

But, there was incredible beauty in the midst of all that.  Country Kitty had told me that the front area on either side of the driveway had hidden springs, but they usually only showed up after LOTS of rain.  Well, we found one yesterday, and I stood in awe, watching that clear and cold water bubbling out of the earth and washing down to the small creek bed that surely has caught that spring's water for decades.  What a gift, and worth wading the driveway to see.

It is gone today, of course, and we were able to wander about without jackets most of the day (funny how the mid-40s seem warm to us now).  The chickens were happy for the sun, even if they were pecking in the mud.  At least the mud isn't frozen anymore.

Well, until next Thursday anyway.

No comments: