Here I sit, in my chair, looking over at dogs sleeping on my pillow, and trying my best to not think about what stil has to be done in my kitchen.
Here is the story:
In the middle of last week, we got a dusting of snow on the ground and everybody kind of nodded gravely and said oh my goodness, snow in mid-October, haven’t seen this since my gramps was knee high to a coon dog and hadn’t met grandmama yet.
Just as this was petering out as a topic of conversation in the self-checkout in Shaws to ease the embarrassment of not being able to find the barcode on the jar of vienna sausage, the weathermen announced that we might have some real snow that weekend.
Piffle! we all sniffed. Tosh! One more reason to get all worried over nothing.
Doug and the kids and I had to drive out on Saturday to meet Amanda, who is socializing Bosco for us for a few weeks or until someone decides they want to be his devoted slave and nose-kisser for the rest of his life. We had vague plans to get back home before the snow got deep, with a very world-weary attitude of “Just in case they actually know what they’re talking about FOR ONCE.”
Sure enough, as we headed back up the highway the flakes were falling and even beginning to gather a little bit on the ground. It was so charming; the kids were oohing and aahing over the first real snow of the season. I had visions of getting home and brewing a big pot of coffee and beginning my night’s work in cozy peace.
Halfway home, we stopped for a few things at the store, and I was so buoyed by contentment and picturing Bosco riding off into the horse-scented sunset that I was super indulgent and let the kids pick out paperback books and halloween candy. We paid and headed for the big double doors, which opened gracefully for us.
Doug turned to me and yelled something, but I have no idea what because the wind had just whipped sixty pounds of snow down my throat and the kids were yelling incoherent things about death and escaping. We managed to wheel our cart through the four inches of snow that had appeared from some trapdoor in the sky while we were pricing peanut butter cups and got to the car, where we stared at each other in shock and then drove in dread-tinged silence out to the road.
And then began an adventure called “Oh my gosh, all the lights are out here, Here too!, Did you see that tree? Get behind that sand truck; he is our salvation, Are the street lights gone too? That guy’s garage is totaled!”
Two hours to travel what should have been thirty minutes, and we were home. We could hear the dogs howling in panic from the driveway, and we hadn’t seen any lights on in five miles.
I’ll spare you the details of trying to walk dogs, wondering whether we should put food in the dead fridge or on the deck for the snow to keep cold, and then bringing every blanket from every bed in the entire house and piling it on the queen-size bed in our bedroom, then slipping kids under the quilts and stacking dogs on top of them. I will say this: Six people and seven dogs and two puppies in one bed is very warm, but you wake up with a splitting headache and a lot of hair in your mouth.
The next day came word from the power company – there were only six customers in our town who still had power. No repairs expected for days. Two thousand limbs down just in our one little town. Don’t be a hero.
So we were not heroes. Doug began calling hotels while I began to make our bedroom into a place where we could leave dogs for days on end; crating and using the dog room in the basement were out of the question because the weather was predicted to be in the teens. They had to be able to get up off the floor and snuggle together for warmth. So gates were installed, cords up and unplugged, chairs covered with blankets, enormous bowls of food and water in the corners. He found a place 30 minutes away and we packed up Sammy and Godric and left.
For the next two nights and three days, I didn’t come home. Doug drove the distance four times a day to feed and water; the big kids went morning and evening to do chickens and puppies. I, knowing what I’d face when we finally got home, took 30-minute showers, read three books with Extremely Naughty Vampires in them, and entertained the two little kids by convincing them that the Food Channel was the most awesome thing on television. In short, I luxuriated. I hadn’t stayed in a hotel room for three years, and that was because our house had half-burned down. The last time I stayed in a hotel and was able to relax was over seven years ago. So wow did I relax. I ate breakfast. Actually, who am I kidding. I ate second breakfast and third breakfast on my way to early lunch.
When word came this morning that a) we had power and b) we were not going to be able to eat for several weeks if we paid for one more night in a hotel, we packed up and drove home, waving a sad goodbye to the heated pool and the nice ladies who gave us clean sheets every morning, to the colossal shower and the TV in every room.
On the way in the door of our house, I grabbed the enormous shop vac off the porch and turned it on while I was walking. After that there wasn’t much except a lot of gagging noises and cries of “I don’t care! Throw it OUT!” and “Did this used to be a shoe?” Every time I appeared from the room, I gritted out something about if you guys are not advancing the laundry every 45 minutes there will be heckfire to pay, now sweep up whatever awful thing that is and tell Daddy that the shop vac needs to be dumped out. Again.
Then there were mop buckets with bleach, then mop buckets with simple green, then mop buckets with clean, hot water so the open windows could dry the floor and blow away the last of the funk.
Finally, I opened a bottle of hard cider and drank it where I stood, and then sat on the bed with Zuzu in my lap until Oswald the Friendly Octopus made my eyes close and I dreamed of very large, hot showers.
Half of my bedroom is now out in the woods on the mulch pile. I have a hundred e-mails to return. But we are warm again, and content, and the correct number of dogs are on the bed once more. All I need is an
extremely naughty vampire hot shower and I’ll be set for the next seven years.