The day after Christmas, we got a few inches. No shoveling; just sweeping the steps and vehicles with a kitchen broom. That was a nice snow – turned everything clean, white and pretty. Four days later, we got another 4 or 5 inches. Again, no big thing. On January 17th, 2 or 3 inches.
Then, late Saturday, January 22, a blizzard whipped down from the artic. A TV forecaster had said that it would be a nice weekend to stay home and relax; don't go anywhere; enjoy. It began as a simple snowfall that didn't take long to turn sideways and arrive horizontally. One side of my car was wiped clean by the jet stream as the other side was buried under. It was not a blinding snow storm; you could almost always see into the distance but it was persistent and at times powerful – near hurricane force winds blowing in from the ocean whipping around the terrain and buildings so that by the time it arrived, it hit hard from one direction and then from another, though mostly from the northeast – a nor'easter.
Click nearly any photo of January 23 to get the full screen rendition. Look hard and you'll see the horizontal streaks of snow. This accumulation included a steady peppering of twigs, pine needles and branches. The trees were being stripped. One pine branch fell across the driveway. Though the official accumulation came to 33 inches, it ranged from one foot under some wind swept evergreens to seven feet in the leewards.
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People from New Hampshire to Oregon and north into the really cold and deep frontier lands of Canada, Alaska and the Artic might look at this and ask, "Why?", as might those in Siberia and in the countries that border the Alps. To them I would respond: "Because.". If you were to go back to my home page and click on "Van's Journal", you would see that my heart lies in Southern California, primarily Joshua Tree and Laguna Beach, where an overnight snowfall of a half inch is cause for wonder and delight.
This photographer chose to remain indoors taking pictures through whatever hole he could find between the layers of snow that plastered all windows and turned to ice. His wife on the other hand, needed to get out with the dog, though the dog would quickly return to the safety of shelter. Now and then she would wade, stumble and crawl to the Jeep, start it up and attempt to climb over the accumulating snow and escape to freedom (from what?) – but it didn't work; the 4-wheel drive in Lo only pushed harder against an immovable wall.
We were fortunate that we never lost power for any length of time. Eileen talked off and on Sunday to her friend Jean further down Cape as she and her mother, dogs, cat, snake and parakeet braved the freezing dark inside their home, tending a fire in the fireplace. About an hour after midnight, they arrived in a Barnstable County Fire & Rescue truck – Jean, Grace, Sparky and Peter. The Husky, cat and snake remained behind. By then, we had cleared a path from the front door we never use to the street and brought out the extra blankets, towels and hot tea.
January 24, 7:22 AM
Monday, the 24th, was a magnificent and beautiful sunny day, though cold – about 7 degrees. We were unable to reach anybody by phone to plow us out, so I put on my coat and went out to the street with the idea of waving one down. It didn't work. Most would just wave back, smile and continue on. Occasionally one might roll down his window and apologize that he was already booked.
It was cold and I didn't want to just stand there so I decided to do a little shoveling while I waited, if just to clear the mail box. As I slowly progressed on down the drive, I would quickly turn and head back up to the street any time I saw one coming along. I learned to get my shovel in the air and waving to catch their attention - but it didn't work. Eventually, I was too far down and hidden to see them coming but if it sounded like a pickup truck, I would put my shovel way in the air and wave it back and forth – to no avail.
I was ready to quit at the slightest excuse, but Jean mentioned to Eileen that she had a juicy roast beef in the freezer that could be put to good use if they could only get to it. This kept me going. Back in the Marines, I had learned how to push myself beyond my limits. This was for a good cause. By early afternoon, a 7 foot wide path was cleared to the Jeep. I was exhausted; wiped out. I would come to find myself in utter pain over the next few days. Eileen and Jean took off in the Jeep and returned a few hours later with a bag of Chinese that Jean had bought. Uh-huh. I think I made a few unfortunate comments that I am still hearing about to this day.
About 6:00, Jean got word that their power was back on. After “dinner”, we loaded them all into the Jeep (I may have pushed a little) and Eileen drove them back to their home. All was well; no pipes had frozen and burst.
January 25, 10:42 AM
On Tuesday, the 25th, I refined my work; rounding corners and clearing a path to the oil fill pipe in case the oil truck might show up. I also leveled the snow-slush-ice pile at the street so we could see to the left when pulling out. A plow did stop this time when I waved but now it was to send him across the street to Hilda's place. We were also amazed and delighted to discover that our tenants had shoveled out their own driveway. So everybody was all set.
We had consumed a bit of oil. On Sunday the oil tank was 1/3 full; by Tuesday, it was 1/4 full. Where we normally turn the thermostats down at night, we had left them up to keep our visitors comfortable.
Funny how your very life blood, your home, the comfort you take for granted can be so dependant on one old fashioned system that could fail at any moment, as it has in the past. These old iron pipes in this old house could easily freeze and burst. This furnace does have some safety shutoffs built in and if the temperature or oil level drops too low it will phone the oil company's computer, if the phones are working. It is also dependant on electricity; no electric, no oil heat. Something is wrong with that picture. They should attach a battery to the thing. How about a UPS, Uninterruptible Power Supply, like I have on my computer?
It is late Wednesday now and it is lightly snowing – the nice gentle kind. They say it could reach 6 to 9 inches by morning. The school closings are rolling across the bottom of the TV screen again. And so it goes.