Snowbound and the Sound of the Cavalry

By: Bob Holeman

Snowbound.  If we thought we were isolated from others by the COVID situation, how about this snow, ice and below-freezing environment we find ourselves in now?  This is most un-Louisiana.  We’re not talking Minnesota snowdrifts over the top of the house but driveway and street conditions are such that few are venturing outdoors.  Not to mention downed limbs and trees you would have to dodge.

Someone pointed to another fact suggesting this is not a Louisiana event.  For most Louisiana snow, you have to be standing outside to see flakes falling to prove it really happened.  If you’re lucky, there’s enough accumulation on your car’s back window to make a good snowball.  Yes, there are occasional real snowfalls where we see an actual snow cover, kids playing outside and snowmen in yards here and there.  But snow and ice-covered trees that started Sunday and threaten to still be hanging around in a week?  No, we’re “snow today, gone tomorrow” sort of folks.

It’s quiet in our neighborhood.  I can’t say how things are going up on the five-lane because we can’t get up those five blocks.  We’d have to drive or walk up a couple of steep and icy streets to peek so we’re just going to wait until the thaw comes.  I’d guess that folks in rural areas with rural roads are facing the same.  Home is better.

The home quiet does give us time to ponder.  Diane observed rightly that Winn has experienced one heck of a six-month run.  Two hurricanes and two snow storms.  So what do you do?  Diane’s spent a lot of time bundled up under a blanket, reading Agatha Christie mysteries.  And together we launched a long-postponed chore of a photographic and written chronicle inventory of household items.  I think we’d all be amazed of the “stuff” we accumulate through the years.

In my own quiet time musings, I had a Gideon sort of wet-fleece-dry-fleece observation.  In the January snow we had, our back yard was blanketed with snow and the wrought iron table and chairs on the patio were piled nearly 5 inches high with the stuff.  Call that the wet fleece.  After Sunday’s snow this week, we awoke to a majestic landscape of snow Monday.  It was hard to tell where the patio ended and the yard began except for some bumps that were snow-covered bushes.  Then there was the wrought iron patio set, standing as black and metal and snowless as it could be.  We’ll call this the dry fleece.  So why the difference?  Here’s my quiet time logic:  January snow came with cold but not super-cold temperatures.  When the earliest flakes came down on the expended metal framework, there was some melting going on.  Later flakes were caught and soon the metal grids filled.  Snow piled and the effect was visually pleasing.  By contrast when this week’s snow came, temperatures had already been subfreezing for days and the metal furniture was just as cold.  The result was that snow did not melt as it hit the furniture but floated on through the gaps onto the patio.  So, lots of powdery snow rested on the ground, none on the furniture.  I’ll hold this theory until a science teacher tells me I’m wrong.

My Presbyterian friends advise me there’s no such thing as coincidence.  If something happens, Providence had a hand in it.  Does this apply to portable generators?  We’ve lived in our home for 35 years and never needed one.  When Hurricane Laura hit on a Thursday last August, I still thought I’d be OK.  But I started to get nervous and ran an extension cord to the generator of kind neighbor Mickey Simmon to keep my refrigerator cold.  Our son Chris arrived late night Friday with his generator (plus gasoline) which we unloaded the next morning and got it hooked up to the house and running.  He wasn’t in a hurry to get his generator back so lo and behold, come Hurricane Delta we’ve still got the generator (though power loss is short-lived).  Chris had planned to pick up the generator after Christmas when they came for a visit but when he looked at the worn tires on his truck, he decided to come in Sarah’s car instead.  As a result, we had the generator for Snowstorm Alpha and Snowstorm Beta.  Now he’s not so sure he even needs a generator in east Texas.  Coincidence or the Hand of the Lord?  There is one small caveat.  I’d planned, gassed up, practiced and all with the generator from Sunday until we actually needed it in Wednesday’ sleet and ice.  We heard a transformer blow about 4 p.m. and lost power.  All was well with the generator until we were ready for bed (earlier than normal, you might expect).  We turned off the generator, topped off the gas and turned it back on.  But after a couple of unsuccessful pulls on the start cord in the dark, the third yank  brought the handle and about 8 inches of cord off in my right hand and the rest wound back into the generator.  Again perhaps the Lord tapping Bob’s “I can do it all” ego?

Remember all those Westerns you watched as a kid and you feared the wagon train or the homesteaders were about the buy the farm because of an Indian attack?  Then you heard the bugle call of the fast-approaching U.S. Cavalry and you know all would be saved?  Diane and I heard that bugle call Wednesday night.  As I mentioned, we’d gone to bed earlier than normal and after awhile it seemed like the two blankets and a spread would not be enough.  Around 10, I got up to get an old sleeping bag from another room and added a layer to our covers.  As I got back into the bed, I noticed Diane had left to take care of business.  Then I saw a small flicker of light, not from her flashlight but from a red-shaded lamp across the room.  “Could it be?” I wondered.  Sure enough, our power came back on a few minutes later.  The city’s power crew was out late in this terrible weather, working to bring normalcy to residents.

I’ll bet providers receive a lot of complaints from customers when things go wrong but precious few thanks when they go right.  I talked to City Hall to get a little information and they confirmed this.  As the storm approached Mayor George Moss called in the city’s power crew and made arrangements to house them here, since three of them live out of town and are away from their families during this period of bad weather.  They’re out working late, getting some sleep then out again working early, helping to restore electrical power to homes and businesses.  Meanwhile Nature uses sleet and limbs and trees and frozen rain to do what She can to disrupt power.  It’s cold, wet work but somebody has to do it.  And in this case, it’s Jonathan Paul, Josh Coyler, Larry Desadier and Joseph Conroe.

Thanks guys.  And be safe.

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