Memorable Winters


Part 1

A few weeks ago, we finished our first bad taste of bad winter weather in several years. We were snowed and iced in for five days. The temperatures dropped to seven degrees at night and the teens during the day. The wind chill was below zero for much of that time.

When the weather becomes cold, we lay in a good supply of wood, plenty of kerosene, batteries, matches and candles. We began taking stock and replenish supplies before the storms to hit. We bought more of everything we might run out of. In the case of wood, I stacked more near the front and rear doors for easy access. If the predicted ice storm came, the walks would become treacherous with ice, and you don’t want to be in the snow and ice with a broken leg in a negative wind chill. I also brought a five-gallon bucket of salt, and a two-gallon container of kitty litter, excellent for traction when scattered over ice, setting them next to the front doors.

A day or two before the storm was predicted, we had a woodburning stove, go out of commission and were without it. To mitigate that loss, we brought out three electric resistance heaters and electric throws for the couch and chairs. Since we have two window heat pumps one in the rear of the house and one in our bedroom, we were cozy. All in all, it was a fair remedy, not quite as satisfying as we would have if the stove was functioning. With our warmth taken care of to the best of our ability, we took stock of our food stuff and water. We filled the dog dish full and several vessels with water in case the electric went out. We had more than enough perishable food to last in the refrigerator and freezer, but what if the electric went out? In the country no electricity means no water and no toilet flushing, two things essential. We stocked up on a few other things, mostly staples and produce, and settled down as snug as two bugs and one dog in a rug. The storm and cold weather came.

First the temperature dropped, and then in a day, more or less later, the ice came. It was light, a quarter inch or less, but it became bitter cold. The rain/ice mix that preceded the actual ice storm, had filled the cracks between the gravel in our drive way and glazed over the rocks. Our walks became iced over. The kerosene heaters were alight, the electric ones strategically positioned and running. We weathered the first third of the storm, and then came the first snow of about an inch and a half, on top of the ice. Still bitter cold. After a day of weather, cold but not quite as bad, and four days later we were doing pretty well and did not lose power.

It was trying at times, but our friend Greg Jupin who lives at the top of our hill checked on us to make sure we were alright, and found us doing fine. It’s nice to have neighbors like Greg. The museum shut down for the week, and on the fourth or fifth day, it was hard to tell which, because we were cloistered in a few rooms, when next snow came. We awoke, to a fresh three inches which had fallen in the night. That kept us snow bound for another three days, because we have two hills to climb and no 4-WD vehicles.

After seven days we managed to get out long enough to drive to Stull’s Country Store, and get additional kerosene, and food, although we were never out of anything. We have had the experience of several ice storms and with each one we have learned a little more about coping. You might wonder why this relatively mild storm had caused us such a bunker mentality. (Next week read Part 2, about our experience during the 2009 storm)

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