Well that sucked.
So pretty. And so… god. How do y’all deal with this so often? It tracks in the house. Everything gets wet. God help you if you don’t have proper gloves! But add power outages to that and you realize what a thin and fragile veneer modern life really is.
Texas got faced with snowmagedon a few weeks ago and it was super no bueno. Snow. Ice. Power outages. Nothing was open, so god help ya if you hadn’t stocked up on food. But if you did… well your power was out a LOT so hope you stocked up on like, dry goods and not milk or things you didn’t need to simmer for hours. When the power did come back on there were so many leaks the most of the city supply of water RAN OUT. It was yet another “you’ll remember this for the rest of your life” moments we got to talk to the girls about. The snow storm of 2021. Insurrection. Pandemic. School closures. Deaths of loved ones. I’ve said this before but whoever out there keeps saying: “Well at least it can’t get worse!” Needs to KNOCK THAT SHIT OFF. Or at least knock on wood afterwards. Like, damn.
Back to the snow. When we moved into our house the idiots who flipped it took out a chimney. We think it was to a woodstove, but we’re not sure. So fuuuuuck those guys because we really could have used one during the peak of it all when it was 6 degrees out there. I have been pricing out how much it would cost to add one in; both because I NEVER want to go through that again and because we actually have really missed having a fire even on milder nights than those as we used the fireplace at our old house frequently. If we had just had fire, and some warmth… we would have been fine. I mean, we WERE fine and we made do and all, but goodness could we have used a fire.
We had rolling blackouts for the better part of a week. The power would come on for about an hour and be out for 1-3. Just enough to kick on the heat, charge some phones, cook a quick meal (maybe), and then poof… out again. It’s amazing how tied to your mood it becomes. Such a sinking feeling when the sound cuts out and the lights flick off. So joyful when it kicks back on. In the scheme of things we were VERY lucky- we had friends and family who were without power in Austin for over two days.
When the power kicked out it would go from 65 degrees inside down to 55 degrees within the hour. 55 degrees is okay when you’re outside in the sun… it’s less okay when you can’t get away from it inside the house. Luckily we all had decent gear, thanks to all my trips to Canada and some fortuitous second hand jacket purchases. (Also God BLESS my cousin from up north who gave us a decent Patagonia jacket that fit the littlest earlier in the year.) But we were LOW on gloves. And hats. And thick and/or waterproof pants. But whatever, we made it.
And tried to have what fun we could.
It wasn’t all bad. And it was beautiful. We had a cool family walk at midnight when it first started falling and a couple of days later another one with a snowball fight thrown in. The hollywood junipers in the back looked like a dream dusted in snow. We had enough hot water for a hot bath by candlelight a couple of times and that was amazing. All our friends and family were fine. Neighbors checked up on each other. We’re okay.
The chickens were fine, by the way. I looked it up and Buff Orpingtons are quite cold hardy, so as long as they were dry they were fine. Even though it said they’d be fine with the cold I took extra care as they weren’t acclimated to it so I added a ton of bedding to their house, gave them extra corn, and put a large mason jar in their coop with a string of incandescent Christmas lights in it for when the power was on to radiate a little warmth. (The mason jar was because I couldn’t trust the idiots not to peck the bulbs.) I also covered their windows and some, but not all, of the vent holes to minimize drafts.
We got dangerously low on the wild bird food but never actually ran completely out. All the birds at the feeders in the snow were a treat to see, but I knew how much they needed the supplemental feed and worried about leaving them high and dry if we ran out.
There were also adult whiskey snow cones…
And snow chilled wine…
We had no burst pipes. Never lost water. No roof or water damage. We’re okay. The girls were fine honestly and kept themselves occupied. (With too much screen time, if I’m honest, but whatever gets ya through the days.)
As for me I spent the time reading the Foxfire books- a 70s compendium of Appalachian folk knowledge. If I ever need to know how to make a spring house or bird trap, trade horses, gather wild ginger, or make tar I’m all set… and that was just in half of the 4th volume. Preparing for the end of the civilization gives me comfort, what can I say.
In the weeks afterwards one of our neighbors taught me how to make jams and jellies and can stuff… so that’s cool and fits right in to my old school knowledge gathering. My desires on all of this remind me of a passage from The Stand where Mother Abbigail wakes up and there isn’t any electricity or civilization to lean on and she just goes- whelp, that was nice while it lasted but now back to living without it and goes back to butchering hogs instead of going to the grocery store. I realize this is much too over the top in my desires and reactions here, but also… it can’t hurt.
So we’re fine. And the house is fine. And the animals are fine. But the garden is not fine. I’m not going to share any pictures on this part.
The garden… sigh. We look to have lost every single one of the mrytle shrubs that were the foundation plants under the front windows. The kale is dead. The bay leaf. The upright hardy cactus. The yucca we took as a cutting in Castroville. The Twilight Zone and Belinda’s Dream roses. The Julia Child rose isn’t looking promising either. All the snapdragons. Many of the salvias. The Castroville basil. The white cat whiskers shrub. The milkweed. The morning glory bush. The fern leaf lavenders are gone. Not sure on the Mexican flame vines. The possum haw hollies look to be goners. The white mist shrubs are dead. The Rosemary may never recover. The thryallis doesn’t look good. I don’t know if the grape vine will make it. The chile pequin is gone.
It was… well it was a bit of a massacre out there. We’re still trying to process it all. It was expensive, but more importantly some old friends and much appreciated plants are gone. So that’s heartbreaking. But it isn’t all gone. And we’re not pulling things out yet as some may come back from the roots… we’ll see.
We do the best we can, when we can, and I guess that’s all the lesson there ever really is to it all, you know?
Y’all stay warm.
Spring is almost here. Good things to come.