Yesterday morning. 0300 hours. I wake up to an unfamiliar sound – a strange blaring siren somewhere in the house. My first thought is, “Well that was a nice, cozy three hour night of sleep.”
The unfamiliar sound turned out to be the alert tone on my new weather radio, triggered by the fine insomniacs at the Albany office of the National Weather Service, who decided that it was absolutely critical that everyone with a weather alert radio know right away that it would start snowing more than 24 hours later. I think they just like to jack with people – one of those “if I’ve gotta be up, they’re gonna be up” things. I used to do the same thing in my EMS days, gleefully going full lights and siren through the empty streets of residential neighborhoods. Now payback’s a bitch, right?
We knew this storm was coming almost a week ago. It’s a classic nor’easter – low pressure forms off the Carolinas over the warm Gulf Stream waters, travels up the east coast and meets cold dry Canadian air somewhere about directly over my house. The warm humid air freezes out, and we get heavy snow and winds for 12-24 hours if we’re on the cold side of the colliding air masses. If we’re on the other side, we get heavy rain and winds. If we’re right in the middle, it’s ice.
This one looks to be all snow for us, and it started right on time. It’s been snowing steadily for about two hours now, and it’s sticking to pretty much everything, even though the last two or three days were well into the 50s. As much of a pain as these storms can be, they do make things pretty for a while. This one is predicted to give us about a foot of snow, which is an awful lot for a pre-Thanksgiving storm, and may portend a particularly nasty winter ahead.
So yesterday, what with a 30 hour heads up for the storm, I went into overdrive to get some long-neglected pre-winter preps out of the way. I started with a half-page list of things to do, and realized that it would probably take me two days to finish the list. What’s worse, I had commitments in the morning yesterday, which meant I wouldn’t be able to even start my list until about 2:00PM. Wasn’t looking good.
Enter my awesome backup team. My family picked up my list and started working on it while I labored in the garage to get my power equipment winterized and safely stored back in the shed before getting snowed in. It was mostly little stuff like rolling up the garden hoses and raking the leaves away from the electric fence around the chickens. But they busily knocked items off the list like little Thanksgiving elves, leaving me to my oily business. It was pretty cool.
Long about 4:30PM, with the sun setting behind the gathering clouds of the storm to come, Grace decided to hook the plow up to the tractor. It’s a pretty big job – the plow is a heavy back-blade that goes on the three-point hitch, and hooking it up can be a chore. But she gave it the old college try, and nearly got it attached. But I figured adding a traumatic finger amputation to the long list of injuries I’ve inflicted either directly or indirectly on Grace wouldn’t win me any Father of the Year awards, so I pitched in and we got the plow hooked up. Teamwork is pretty cool.
So now we sit and ride this thing out, hoping that the timing of the storm allows road crews to get everything scraped and sanded clean before heading over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house tomorrow (literally). All things considered, I can’t think of a better day to be trapped inside the house. I’ve got a nice fire going in the woodstove, and Mrs. P will be getting to the Thanksgiving pies later today, so the house is going to smell awesome. And one of those pies will have my own sweet potatoes in it, along with Myer lemons straight from the tree and fresh eggs. I’m also planning a batch of homesteader cornbread muffins with fresh-ground Cascade Ruby-Gold corn, so the place is going to smell extra warm and delicious soon.
Winter is coming, in many ways, but for now, there’s plenty to be thankful for.