What’s the worst word that can ever be uttered in Texas?
The schools shut down, the roads close, and the newscasters spend 24 hours a day reporting on the amount, kind, and location of the nasty stuff. To outsiders it seems a little over the top. Okay, a lot over the top. And when I first arrived from a lifetime of Ohio living, I joined the snickering group of Yankees laughing at the crazy Southerners.
Until I drove in it.
Up north they have this stuff called road salt. Truckloads of salt and chemical concoctions standing at the ready to sweep over the snow and ice, melting away the problem. Behind them comes the snow plows sweeping the roads clear.
We have like 3 truckloads of sand for the entire metroplex. And when that is depleted? Hope your pantry is stocked cause you ain’t goin’ nowhere.
Ice storms in the south turn the roads into palatial skating rinks, and since the cars have wheels and not blades… well you get the picture.
So earlier this month when the forecasts called for the biggest ice storms since the early 80’s, I rushed to Walmart with every other inhabitant of Wise County. The shelves were emptying quickly and the aisles were jam packed, but all shoppers were friendly and patient…a nice surprise.
Our little farm sits between two itsty bitsy one-car bridges on a quiet little county road. The fact is, being stranded out here is a real possibility. So we prepared like the pioneers prepared for the winter. We loaded up on hay for the cows, we purchased a generator, we gathered our batteries and firewood. We even filled our tubs with water to flush the toilets in case the electricity went out. Although we have a well, the pump is run by electricity. We did all of our laundry, dishes, and cooking needed for blackouts.
We had done all we could do, so we settled in for the night, wondering what tomorrow would bring.
We awoke to blinding light streaming in through our windows. The sun bounced off the 2 inches of ice covering the ground. The kids rejoiced at the ice-day off school and watched in awed wonder as 4 more inches of snow fell on top of the ice. It was beautiful. And we were stranded. We couldn’t even find our driveway, let alone traverse it.
We did experience a few small blackouts. And we had to continually take a hammer to the thickening ice in the stock tank. Getting the hay to the cows proved a little daunting, and the ice forming on their backs caused concern, but their coats seemed to thicken overnight and they huddled close together to keep warm.
Overall it was awesome. Our little piece of paradise looked like a winter wonderland and the kids spent hours outside playing in the most snow I have witnessed in my 13 years as a Texan.
We were trapped in our snow lodge for over 4 days, but honestly it was more like a mountain vacation. Eventually the temperatures rose and the snow melted faster than seemed possible. Everyone groaned about having to go back to the real world. We all marveled about how it had been so much easier than we thought.
Then the washer broke.
I was prepared to rough it during the ice storm of the decade, but not when school, work, and sports were calling. I spent every evening of the next week washing clothes in the bathtub for those in need. A household of five people can really generate a lot of laundry in a short period of time. The most frustrating part? Every time a Hopper male walked into the bathroom and witnessed me hunched over the claw-foot tub, laughing ensued. No one had given any real thought to how their clothes were clean when there was no washing machine.
I’m pretty sure the washer quit because of the 10 plus wardrobe changes taking place hourly by the front door during the snow storm. It is impossible to find real winter clothing in Texas, so layers must be used to keep the frostbite away. Every time the front door slammed, I would walk up to a little boy stripping down to his skivvies, leaving behind piles of wet clothes. He would soon return with two more layers of dry clothes and head back out into the blinding whiteness.
Thankfully the washer is now fixed, and we spent a lot of time getting reacquainted. Hopefully my days as pioneer woman are over.
Grant using the neighbor’s wakeboard as a snowboard.
See the driveway? Yeah, me neither.
View from back porch.
Eventually Andy was the only one strong enough to even break the ice.