In Our Own Backyard...It's driving me crazy!
It was like a scene straight out of “The Shining.” Remember that old psychological thriller out of the ’80s, set in an isolated, snowbound hotel, where Jack Nicholson goes mad and stalks after his wife with a hatchet while his psychic son moans “Redrum” (murder spelled backward) over and over again?
Well, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s sort of how it felt after a couple of days of being snowbound at home.
“Snow events,” as the meteorologists call them, are kind of exciting at the beginning of the season. The first big blizzard warning sets up a pleasant sort of buzz, conjuring up thoughts of watching the storm howl outside while curled up in front of the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate….
After as many “snow events” as we’ve had this winter — the worst in some 30 years, I’m told — that appealing image sort of loses its luster.
The weather warnings came early last week, so we had plenty of time to prepare for what hit us. I, personally, picked up a boatload of groceries on my way home from work Wednesday night, uncertain of just how soon the blizzard might hit and dubious as to whether I would be able to make it into town after it did.
And so, when Thursday morning dawned bright and snowless, I made the decision to simply stay home and “catch up,” since I wasn’t slated to work that day anyway. Big mistake.
What followed was basically three days of solitary confinement that had little to no resemblance to the pleasant idyll from earlier in the season of being “snowbound.”
At first, it didn’t seem too bad. When the snow began to fall Thursday afternoon, I strapped on my snowshoes and tromped through our woods with camera in hand.
I made a hearty beef stew for dinner, and we switched on the yard light every now and then to keep tabs on what was going outside, which didn’t seem all that threatening.
The bulk of the blizzard came during the night while we were sleeping, so I was somewhat startled when I could barely get the front door open as I went out to get the paper the next morning. That was only the first of a number of unwelcome surprises. The next was that our driveway was knee-deep in snow and our road was completely drifted over in depths up to my thighs.
Of course there was no way for the paper delivery guy to get through, so there was no newspaper, and later on, there was no mail.
I found myself taking deep, cleansing breaths, telling myself this was a great day to get some things done around the house, do a little reading and get back in touch with my inner self.
I swept, vacuumed and cleaned toilets as my husband went out to snow blow (for something like the 30th consecutive day in a row). He only managed to get as far as blowing a path to the propane tank (which, incidentally, was beginning to run low) before he decided there was simply no way our blower could manage the entire driveway and gave up.
He came in and changed a couple of light bulbs and cleaned out the ashes in the fireplace while I changed the kitty litter pan and sewed a button on his shirt. And though it was only 10:30 by then, we decided to eat lunch. I proposed making chicken noodle soup. My husband wanted chicken wild rice.
Somehow, the quaint charm of being snowbound never quite took hold.
“Guess I’ll get started on the taxes,” sighed my husband following lunch.
I set off for the laundry room to fold the third load of laundry I’d done that day.
Even the cats, who have lived indoors all their lives, were feeling it. They squared off on top of the fleece blanket on the couch and jabbed at one another with their paws before launching into a full-fledged cat fight. Yellow fur flew everywhere as they retreated into their own personal corners, licked their “wounds” and restored their respective dignities.
Our nerves were shot, our patience had grown short and we were restless and distinctly out-of-sorts. Every hour, on the hour, my husband put on his Sorrels and slogged out to the road to see if the plow had come through yet. And every hour, he came back with bad news.
It wasn’t until around 4 p.m. that the plow actually came and cleared our road. Not long after, our neighbor plowed our shared driveway. The claustrophobia that had set in instantly began to lift, along with our spirits.
Joyfully, we climbed in the car and headed to a little neighborhood bar and grille for dinner. When we got home, we lit a fire in the fireplace and snuggled up on the couch in anticipation of a nice long evening watching the Olympics on TV — until we discovered the satellite dish was covered in snow and we couldn’t get any reception.