I just realized that it’s been almost four weeks since I last shared a “Photo of the Week” post! December has flown by, and it was a ridiculously busy month for us. I enjoyed it but am also relieved that it is over.
All the cold weather we’ve been having the past few days has got me thinking about snow and ice. We didn’t see any here, but I admit it would be nice to have a little snow. The ice, on the other hand, can stay very far away.
We didn’t get ice storms every winter when I was growing up, but I saw enough of them to know how destructive they are. The pictures below were taken one morning after a night of freezing rain when I was in high school. I went for a walk outdoors, the icy grass crunching underneath my feet, and marveled at the beauty of a frozen forest. The trees were so weighed down with the ice that some of them were completely bent over, their tops nearly touching the ground. I wandered around with my camera, taking pictures of it all.
My most memorable ice storm experience wasn’t on this particular occasion, however.
One year, right around Christmas, most of my family went to stay at my grandparents’ house for a few days. I was about 11 years old at the time. We knew there was a possibility of freezing rain in the forecast, and my parents made the decision to go ahead and drive to my grandparents’ ahead of the ice. All the cousins would be there too, and I was very excited to see them. My mom’s parents live out in what we like to call the “boondocks”. (In other words, out in the country.) The freezing rain did come, and turned into a full blown ice storm. Despite the cold, I was toasty warm lying in front of my grandparents’ wood burning fireplace in my sleeping bag. I fell asleep and woke up around midnight, to a darkness that was so black I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. I could hear the sounds of branches breaking and falling in the distance. The next morning, we looked outside to discover a silent world made of ice. We also had no electricity or running water. (That’s what happens in those kinds of storms, especially when you live in a more rural area).
I don’t know about the adults, but for us kids that week resulted in some of my favorite memories. We went for walks (er, slid around) outside, being careful not to get under any of the big trees due to falling branches. After becoming thoroughly chilled, we would return indoors to enjoy cups of hot chocolate. We were still able to cook and boil water, thanks to my grandparents’ gas stove top. My grandpa kept the fire roaring in their large wood burning stove/fireplace. (We weren’t cold indoors, I assure you.) Refrigerator items were placed on the chilly back porch to keep them cold. Five-gallon buckets of water were carried from the freezing creek to flush the toilets. (Ok, maybe that memory isn’t the greatest, but we stayed as clean as possible). At night we gathered around the warm fire, our sleeping bags lined up in a row on the floor, and listened to my aunt read aloud out of a children’s mystery book. My grandpa and uncle hooked up a generator long enough for us to get hot baths one day, which is a good thing or we would have been pretty stinky by the time the week was over. After several days of this, Dad was able to get through in his truck to come get Mom and us kids and take us home. We sadly waved goodbye to our cousins and drove off through the ice forest. Power poles had been snapped like toothpicks and the road was littered with branches and trees. We drove by my grandpa, who was using his backhoe to clear the roads. Rural areas aren’t exactly priority, so sometimes you have to start up the backhoe and fend for yourself.
The family time was great. The destruction was not so good. One of my cousins later admitted that she might have prayed for several years that it would happen again (the fun part, not the bad part).
I don’t think the rest of the state would agree with her, but it was definitely something to remember. 😉
Go here to see pictures of the ice storm of 2000. You can also go here, where the storm has been listed by The Weather Channel as one of the nation’s top ten most destructive ice storms.