On Dec 15th I was smote with the fact that only ten days remained until Christmas. We’d been slammed with work from a record breaking sales month of November and we were just finishing up the last of the orders placed mid-November, now our focus was on getting all the rest of the orders made and shipped in time for Christmas. Except for a brief foray to a couple stores Friday the 12th, no other Christmas shopping was accomplished, nor food bought, cookies baked or fudge made. The days were a blur of emails, phone orders, making and sending items.
The snow started falling late on the 13th and kept falling giving us a rare white Christmas. Twelve days of snow with intermittent freezing rain. Enough to make everything come to a standstill. We’re poorly equipped for the occasional snow that visits the valley floor. The highway dept doesn’t use salt, just plows, gravel, and a chemical that only works on ice and has to be applied before the roads freeze. Heavy cold rains moved in on the 13th, but not enough to dampened the enthusiasm and crowds for our annual acoustic Christmas music sing along at the meetinghouse. By Sunday everything was white. Not too worry, the snow was supposed to end with rain predicted on Wednesday (17th), I’d be able to get to town buy those last few items and groceries.
It snowed all day Monday and a good portion of Tuesday. That evening it warmed up just enough to melt the top layers which then froze into a sheet of ice. Instead of rain, Wednesday’s snow covered the ice and made perfect sledding down Grandview. The forecast for Sunday (21st) made me hopeful that I could get to town right after church. Instead we woke up Sunday to a weather inversion. Snow fell to about 3000 feet where it met warm air currents pushing up from the south and turned to rain until the 1500 level where freezing cold immediately turned all the rain to frozen pellets. Have you heard the sound of freezing rain on your roof? Thousands of tiny frozen shards sending ominous shivers through the soul. Only town people made it to meeting last Sunday, most come from the surrounding hills including our pianist and her husband the worship leader. The road out of town leading up into those hills was treacherous with ice. That morning I discovered that I can play one handed Christmas carols rather decently while the people sang along. (How in the world was I ever able to read both clefs at the same time while playing with both hands in ages past? )
As the service progressed so did the snow. By the time I slipped down Grandview, longing for my old crosscountry skis, the snow was coming down thick and heavy. At three o’clock the sun broke through the clouds for the first time in nine days. I grabbed my camera and rushed outside. Five minutes later it was gone, not to be seen again until Christmas day. With the snuffing of the sun the temperature dropped bringing a mix of rain and snow that froze onto our already ice encrusted world. Darkness had barely fallen when sounds of rifle cracks and booming cannons repeatedly echoed throughout the town and across the hills. Grabbing flashlights we wandered out to see and watch the damage as tree limbs crashed under the weight of ice and snow. The cold and darkness finally drove us back inside to the soup warming on our woodstove. We’d started eating when I had the notion to get my flashlight. I barely sat back down and picked up my spoon when the electricity went down. We scrambled for the hurricane lamp and candles. Just up the hill from us and the next block over the people in that grid were without power for over two days.
Monday more snow. Ed shoveled off the slight angled woodshed roof and propped 2x6x12 boards under the roof of the back porch to keep it from collapsing under the weight of the snow. That afternoon I stuck a roast in the oven and found we were out of potatoes. A little while later our pastor’s wife called asking if we had electricity. They’d been without since Sunday afternoon, in a house with no other heat source. “Come join us for supper.” I invited. “Bring potatoes if you have some.” They came. The potatoes peeled and water beginning to boil when our electricity went out. Not a problem, the roast was done enough and Ed set up the campstove on the back porch and finished cooking the potatoes and green beans. Another family was converted to our favorite mashed potatoes that evening: plenty of butter, a few spoonfuls of sour cream, enough milk for a smooth consistency, salt, pepper and celery salt – comfort food. We played games with their three great-grandchildren until bedtime. Sometime that evening the main phone line to town was taken out by a falling tree, no phone service until late the next day. By Tuesday I was getting desperate to get to town to finish Christmas shopping and pick up potatoes for my portion of Christmas eve dinner. A neighbor taking his wife in to work gave me a lift. They’d lived in Alaska for about a decade and so reminisced much of the trip about life up there.
All this time the snow and ice had been playing havoc with our satellite dish so much of the time we were without internet. I managed to get in bits here and there to complete the last of the orders by early Tuesday afternoon. Pushing against the Post Office door, Ikea bag filled with packages, I was stunned to find it locked. Sign taped to the door, ” No electricity – CLOSED”. Imagine. The US postal service closing its doors in the middle of the day during the busiest time of the year. Half an hour later we lost our electricity for the second night in a row. I love having a wood stove. Really, I feel very fortunate – MC lives up in the hills, they were without electricity or water for five days.
Oh, there’s more!
Our daughter is finally engaged! When it came time to open the gifts Christmas eve, Aurora’s boyfriend Farmguy asked her to hand out the envelopes scattered in the tree branches. Snug on the tree top was a sparkly ring.
We wanted to make it to the Christmas eve service but got behind the snow plow coming the last three miles, then our car got stuck trying to cross the snow and ice into the church parking lot. By the time we got the car out the shepherds and wise men were descending the stairs. Later that evening I walked several snowy blocks through snow mixed rain savoring the dark quietly celebrating and contemplating the reality of the person of Jesus Christ.
The family all came over to our house Christmas morning for hot cinnamon rolls and opening stockings. Tender decadent cinnamon rolls with lots of butter and brown sugar.
The snow has lost the battle against the incessant rain that’s been coming down the past two days. Yesterday debating whether or not to make a huge batch of cinnamon rolls for Boxing Day, read a book, or pack a few more orders I turned on the computer to see what had come in and soon was sucked back into a somewhat normal work day. Later in afternoon Ed and I drove into town to celebrate my birthday at one of my favorite restaurants. It’s been an interesting, and good week!