O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act 5, Scene I
January 22, 2016–Eighty million people in 23 states are experiencing a historic storm with rain, sleet, snow, ice, and even thundersnow. The Weather Channel calls the storm “Jonas”, and the Washington Post pundits named it #Snowzilla! WaPo held a contest and “Make Winter Great Again” won, but they went with the runner-up #Snowzilla! Our adult son lives in the district and I’m sure will have his stories to tell.
Here in Indiana, a mile north of the Ohio River, we received five, six, or seven inches of snow, depending on your source of information. Thirty miles north of us in Princeton, Indiana, there is no snow. Seventy miles to the south in Princeton, Kentucky, an inch of ice fell followed by nearly a foot of snow. The local paper states “near blizzard-like conditions.” (Not sure what the word “like” implies?)
Back here at Squirrel Vista, our driveway inclines upward for about 20 yards, makes a 90 degree left turn, and heads straight up for another 20 yards into the garage. Our official Snow Shoveller moved to DC seven years ago, so now we hire a professional. He’s visited us twice in the last 48 hours. It’s worth it, says the asthmatic out-of-shape senior woman with the diabetic out-of-shape senior husband.
We grouchy out-of-shape old-timers like to reminisce about the good old days. Honestly, while I love talking about the Blizzard of My Youth, I do not love snow. The biggest blizzard I lived through covered most of the Midwest in late January and early February, Year of our Lord Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Eight.
I was a junior in college and lived in the dorm. Every other Wednesday afternoon, my cronies and I picked up our paychecks (no automatic deposit) from our student jobs at the yearbook. We liked to go out on Wednesdays. That day we chose Mr. Happy Burger, about an hour away in Elwood.
Our friend Bill drove the five of us. Both Bill and my husband Herman (who wasn’t yet my husband and lacked the nom de plume Herman) grew up in the area.
Happy Burger was deserted. We ordered our food and noticed something strange at the drive-up window. Two people on horseback rode up to the drive-up.
That was a sign the end is nigh. We hightailed it home. By now the snow was coming in waves, and the wind was howling like Act I of King Lear. There was no Weather Channel, no cable TV. We couldn’t check AccuWeather on our phones. Cell phones hadn’t been invented. I’m not sure the car radio worked.
We trudged on down Highway 28, glad to see the city lights of Muncie in the very late afternoon. Did we return immediately to our dorms? Of course not. We stopped at Bob’s Bottle Shop for laundry detergent. Well, that’s what we said it was when we carried it up to the seventh floor in a laundry basket. I am either making that last part up or mixing it up with another story. Get over it. I’m old, and this is my old-timey reminiscing. I know for sure we bought vodka at the liquor store. And orange juice.
We missed five days of school and drank and played Monopoly, pretty lame stuff.
Then we had to go outside, and our two booted feet were the only transportation available. My car was in a ten-foot snow drift blocks away at the Newman Center. My roommate secured permission for me to park Ole Bessie there. Three or four weeks later the snow had melted enough for us to start digging her out. The snow wasn’t all gone until April. Our spring break extended a week due to the coal strike. I caught a ride to South Whitley with a friend, and Herman spent two weeks in Florida.
My son is five years older than I was during my Blizzard of a Lifetime. He can drink legally and doesn’t have to hide his microbrew beer or whatever it is they drink these days.
On days like this one, I wonder about the brilliance of moving back to Indiana from Florida in 1988. When I was growing up and as a young adult, my often-stated goal was to live in Florida by the time I was twenty-five. I missed it by three weeks. I moved to Largo, Florida, in August 1982.
And then we came back. We came back for good reasons. Both of us missed our families. We didn’t want to raise children in the Florida schools, where no school bond issue had passed for thirty years. We’ve had an incredible life here, but I still dream of spending winter months back in the Sunshine State.
Until that is possible, we listen to the sound of someone else plowing our mega-driveway, enjoy some soup, and remember our youthful snow days.