Rural Living

The Sunny Side of Snow Days

by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Writer

Margo Oxendine

Record snowfalls. Porches, roads and  driveways slicked with ice. Frigid air. What a winter!

Will the groundhog see his shadow this month? I think not.

I was happy to awaken to a steady snowfall in early December. Until I remembered I was supposed to speak to a group of Rotarians at The Homestead that morning. I have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. I bought it for just such occasions. Yet, I’m afraid to drive it in the snow. The car is some sort of “smart” vehicle, which somehow “knows” when to kick into four-wheel-drive. I guess my car is smarter than I am.

My mind kicked into 4WD that morning. And hit upon the perfect solution: I called the hotel concierge. “If you want me to speak to the Rotarians, could you please send a car?”

I knew transportation professionals were already out there on the snowy roads, ferrying hotel guests from one venue to another. What’s another trip?

I expected a van, or a pick-up truck. What I saw in my driveway was a Lincoln Navigator. Nothing like arriving in fine style.

The morning of Dec. 18, we were warned to expect snow, and lots of it, across Virginia. People got excited, in a dread-full sort of way. The first thing everyone did was run to the grocery store. I hear that Walmart ran out of eggs and bread. Imagine!

I had to cover court all day. I ran by Valley Supermarket during lunch, to fetch my own necessities:  Diet Coke, ham, cheddar cheese, and Blow Pops. The place was packed; not a single cart was available. The threat of snow was in the air.

“How many inches?” people asked each other.

“I heard tell 17,” was the stock answer.

The snow gods have cheated us these past few winters. A dusting, or a couple inches here and there, always after Christmas, always spoiling plans to head out of town for some excitement. I was secretly thrilled to hear tell of 17 inches. I would snuggle by the fireplace with my cuddly dog, my Blow Pops, and some books to read.

That necessitated a trip to the library, where I discovered the second-most-popular pre-snowstorm destination. People were teetering out the door with books piled up under their chins.

I had told the judge that morning, “Don’t take it personally, but as soon as I count five snowflakes out the window, I’m outta here!”

Attorneys, defendants, reporters, bailiffs, the judge himself — we all kept watchful eyes on the window. There were no snowflakes. And suddenly, there were 5,000. I scurried home, lucky to navigate the nine miles before the roads became impassable.

The snow poured from the sky throughout Friday, and all of Saturday, until early Sunday morning. And that predicted 17 inches? Think again. Depending where you could measure, we had between 27 and 38 inches.

This spelled doom for last-minute Christmas shoppers. I was grateful not to lose electricity, but my satellite dish became buried under snow. Despite a pile of books to read, I missed watching the news, not to mention the “Survivor” finale.

About four days into it, I got stir crazy. I put on knee-high boots that were still not tall enough, armed myself with a broom, and trudged out to the shed, where I keep two ladders. These ladders are for hired handymen to use. I have never operated them myself, but I planned to learn that day. I had my eye on that dish. It was slow-going toting a heavy ladder 40 feet, through 30 inches of snow. When I finally reached my destination, I discovered that, even teetering atop a rickety ladder, I wasn’t tall enough to do the job.

Two days later, I called a tall, helpful neighbor. He seemed happy to get out of his own house and trudge up to mine. He made quick work of sweeping off the dish, and then, he asked the most wonderful question I’d heard all winter.

“I’m going to the dumpsters,” he mentioned. “Do you want me to take your trash?” This, my friends, is what’s known as a “snow angel.” I found two snow angels that day. The other showed up in a big, antique tractor and cleared my driveway. He wouldn’t take any money, so I force-fed him homemade peanut butter cookies.

Forecasters say February will be warmer than normal, ushering in an early spring. I hope the groundhog agrees.  


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