Tuesday, January 8, 2013

White Christmas (and Boxing Day, and day after Boxing Day...)

Late Christmas afternoon - everything is coated in ice. Heavy, heavy ice.

For the first time in 86 years, Arkansas had a white Christmas, and that white was not just a small smattering of snow - we had at least 10 inches. Doesn't that sound wonderful? Uh, yeah. It would have been great except for one small, itty bitty problem; the snow came after a quarter inch of ice had covered everything.

The same crepe myrtles from the first picture, the next morning.
The winter we lived in Brockport we often had more than 10 inches of snow, and life went on with barely a hiccup. It took 3 feet of snow in one night to cause any real problems. Arkansas, however, is not western New York. There are very few snow plows, for one thing. For another, most of the trees down here are not accustomed to heavy ice and snow, and as you can see from the picture above, they tended to flop down towards the ground. These are crepe myrtles, which are both flexible and resilient. We lost a few branches on a couple of the ones in our yard, but otherwise our trees were pretty much unscathed. The same cannot be said for many of the pines in the area, or the power lines.

A sight I never thought I would see in Arkansas - 10 inches of snow!
Our power went out for a couple of hours in the afternoon on Christmas Day. Since Maumelle has buried power lines and our power had never been out for more than an hour or so since we moved here, we figured it would come back on soon and life would go on, with a fun little tale to tell Malcolm about his first Christmas. We started a fire in our fireplace (the first since we moved in), played games by flashlight, and waited. Our biggest problem was figuring out what to do about dinner, since we were supposed to have roast chicken and apple pie, and the oven, being electric (a remedy we dearly wish to correct one day), was non-functional. Eventually we broke out the camping stove and threw together a sort of stew/soup in the garage (yes, we were being safe while cooking with gas - plenty of ventilation). Just as we were sitting down to eat by the light of the emergency lantern and candles, the power came back on, which seemed to prove us right about Maumelle's robust power grid.

 Although it was too late that day for the chicken, I got the pie in the oven, put Malcolm to bed, and we all sat down to watch a DVD. Which is when the power went out again, at the same time as there were strange blue flashes in the sky. That's funny, we thought. Wonder what that is? we thought. Hey, the neighbors still have power, so ours will probably be back soon, we thought. It had better be, we thought, since the temperature is supposed to get down into the 20s tonight.

More of the pretty, sparkly, troublesome ice.

Uh, no. Eventually the neighbors lost power too, and it became apparent that we were going to be cold and dark for the night.  My biggest concern was keeping Malcolm warm. He isn't really old enough yet to sleep under a pile of blankets, and he can't tell me if he is too cold (well, he can cry and fuss, but since he does that when he is hungry, bored, cold, hot, etc. it isn't the clearest message). In the end, I slept in the living room, in the recliner, with him in my arms, because it was the warmest room in the house. It worked better than I had expected, and I didn't get uncomfortable until 6:30 or so, and then we joined Benjamin in the bedroom.

Malcolm the snow elf, in several layers of clothes, and a cold Miikka.
When we all finally got up, the power was still out, our supply of wood was dwindling, and to add to the mess, our land-line phone was out, and our cell phones had no service. Inconvenient to say the least, especially because my parents were supposed to be flying home that day, and couldn't check on their flight. Eventually, after Benjamin and I talked to some neighbors who had reports of roads being passable once you got off our unplowed hill, and after the cell phones came back enough to call the airlines, my parents made it out and to the airport. Their flight left a little late, but they did make it home.

Our street as seen from our driveway.
That just left Benjamin, Malcolm and I, trying to stay warm and wondering about just how long it would be until we had power again. When I eventually got through to the power company's automated line, the only message it had was that this was a big storm (oh, really, I didn't notice) and that it could be up to 7 days for power to come back. Uh, what? If it had been just Benjamin and I, it wouldn't have been pleasant, but it would have been manageable. With Malcolm, there was no way I wanted to deal with that scenario.

Looking down the big hill.
We had just made plans to decamp for the night to a friend's apartment that had power - literally just minutes from walking out the door - when our power came back. I have never been so happy to hear the whir of our heater fan! Benjamin was more excited about the lights, I think, but I can live in the dark as long as it is warm.

In a way, we were right about Maumelle's power being robust - many areas of Little Rock were indeed without power for 6 or 7 days. Southern trees, ice, snow, and power lines are not a good combination.

Sunrise several days later.
 So, Malcolm's first Christmas was a white one, with a bit of adventure thrown in. Too bad he is far too young to appreciate any of it. We will tell him about it in years to come, and he won't believe us, I am sure, since it is likely to be another 86 years before there is another white Christmas in Arkansas!

1 comment:

Candace said...

Unfortunate end to a lovely visit, but great pictures!!!