Dear Powers That Be:
I don’t know who you are but you obviously don’t have any school-aged kids at home, or you would understand what level hell you are putting us through. By us, I mean parents who had hopes of getting through this winter alive with our sanity intact. But no. You’ve trapped us in our homes with our children for, FLAKE*, what is it? Ten days now? Eleven? I’ve lost count of how many flaking snow days it’s been.
And yeah, I get it. We don’t want the precious darlings to freeze to death on a country road somewhere. But maybe? Just maybe some of us would be willing to risk it in order to send our kids somewhere—anywhere—so that we could take a flaking shower…or a crap…in peace.
I have spent countless mornings trying to remember to feed my child without the incentive of a bus honking impatiently outside. Why get up? Why bother showering? Or getting dressed at all? Flake it, let’s just sleep through this wintry nightmare.
This thought has not occurred to my child. Who, when it is an actual school day, clings to the bed sheets like I’m trying to feed him to a pack of wolves when I shove him out the door. But on a snow day? No! He’s waking early as if every day were Christmas and he’s expecting presents!
The first week was only mildly aggravating—like an itchy sweater. The bad weather caused a snow day on Martin Luther King Jr’s holiday, which our school district doesn’t usually honor. It felt almost like Mother Nature was trying to tell us something. But then, early sleet predictions caused a two-hour stutter mid-week and Friday was a scheduled half-day off school. It was rough, but we survived. People could and did get out and about in between snow flurries.
In the Midwest, we pride ourselves on our versatility and jaunty reserves when it comes to weather adversities. Generally, we laugh when other states declare snow emergencies at a mere inch or two of fluffy white stuff.
In other words, we got cocky.
Enter the polar vortex of death.
Half-way through week two my snowblower broke down. I broke down staring at knee-high snow drifts with only a flimsy snow shovel to aid me. A very nice neighbor cleaned my carburetor and I was back in business, whether I wanted to be or not.
Days alternated between thick bands of snow, ice storms and frigid temperatures not seen since I was a kid. In fact, almost everyone old enough to remember referenced the Blizzard of ’78 which was one of the most devastating storms on record—nearly 40 inches of snow fell in Michigan during a two-day squall. I was ten years old at the time and whooped it up to wake up to a wall of snow and school cancellations scrawling on the tv screen.** I asked my mom today how she felt about being trapped in our house, buried in snowfall, cutoff from civilization. Her understated reply? “I doubt any parent enjoys a snow day.” I’m almost positive she was hiding a laugh when she said it.
This weather was like somebody pissed in the Snow Miser’s cup of cocoa.
We had no school last week. High winds and ice brought down power lines, and some places are still without power today. Following a fire at a compressor station, the local gas company sent an alert text asking consumers to lower thermostats to 65 degrees so we could make it through the arctic cold fronts until they got their refineries back up and running. The newly-elected Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, declared a State of Emergency.
While we huddled against the cold, food supplies ran low. My child foraged in the cupboards for hidden pudding cups and we ran out of chips and cheese. The situation regarding clean underwear reached a critical flaking crisis. (To be honest, I just didn’t want to face the freezing cold basement to try and do a load of laundry.) I figured we’d just get creative using paper towels. Just as temperatures approached critical mass of a nuclear winter, the cold snap broke.
We survived the dreaded polar vortex. Temperatures crawled back into the double-digits. School opened for a shining day or two. Flake-tons of snow melted, creating a river leading from the side door to my garage that promptly froze into a narrow ice rink when the thermometer plunged once again.
Icy rains fell early Wednesday morning. Sleet coated every surface and the squirrels looked like Olympic skaters aiming for a double axle whenever they assaulted my hanging bird feeders. It was the high point of my day watching them try. Oh, and I used up all the salt I bought for the winter in just one week.
By the end of the second big cold snap, I hated the idea of going anywhere, but staying home was beginning to unravel my last nerve.*** Thank goodness for online tea orders or I’d probably have been committed by now.
Gleeful meteorologists with their icy-blue charts are predicting more days of Snowmageddon ahead. And with the recent appearance of ghost apples, I wouldn’t bet against any possible weather phenomenon no matter how rare.
What lovely February forecasts we have to look forward to.
I may resent the flake out of this time of year, but it does have its perks. Suicidal squirrels squabble with blue jays for bird seed. Winters are spent reading books and catching up on a thousand and one Law & Order episodes. I hold out hope that the extreme cold will kill some of the mosquito larvae waiting to hatch in spring. Minneolas are in season and I have the best excuse to bake banana bread, apple pies, and Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Though, I will likely regret this when swimsuit season returns.
Does this mean I secretly like the claustrophobic climate conditions? Flake no. But if you’ll let me send my kid to school next week, I’ll promise to try.
Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:
*The euphemistic use of “Flake” in this post represents another word entirely. I will leave it to your imagination as to what that word might be.
**Fun fact, the Blizzard of ’78 was the year my brothers invented a fun new sport—roof diving. As you might have guessed from its name, this game is only possible when enough snow has fallen to be, theoretically, safe enough to jump into a snowbank from the roof of the house. I remember trying it and plunging nearly chest deep into a huge pile of icy white stuff. At first, I couldn’t get out of it and I panicked. But, after several minutes of rocking back and forth, over and over, eventually you could wiggle your way back out to try again. Maybe my mom knew what we were up to—I don’t think we were particularly quiet as we tromped across the roof over and over again—but, after living through this past week, I can’t really blame her for wanting some peace and quiet.
***This was the wrong year to give up wine and diet coke.