A Winter Storm Memoir: With Apologies To Laura Ingalls Wilder

Feb. 8, 2013 10:20 AM

The blizzard came on hard late this morning. It was so beautiful at first and we felt we were living in a snow globe. The house is cozy and we have real glass windows now.

Pa is away hunting and Ma and Mary and I are worried about him but we’re keeping cheerful for each other. Ma says there’s no great loss without some small gain and we should take out all the bedding and wash it as it will give us something to do while we wait for Pa.

Mary and I are thinking that maybe Ma forgot to refill her prescription for anxiety medication but we are obediently stripping the beds. Where will we find dry hay for fresh ticking? The roads are bad, so a trip to Bed, Bath & Beyond is out of the question.

12:57 PM

I have checked the larder and see that we only have six cans of beans, a bag of quinoa, about one cup of dry bulgar wheat, some brown rice, and several bags of Goya beans. Will it be enough for the three of us? I am worried. And no chocolate? I send Mary up to fill the bathtub with water in case we need to soak all the beans at once. This snow could be coming down for another thirty six hours. Already, the tree branches are white and I got the tops of my feet wet crossing the fields to the barn.

On the street, cars have slowed down to accommodate the dangerous conditions. They creep along at 55 mph in our 25 mph zone. It is good to see our citizens taking such care. Some drivers have even put down their coffee cups for the more difficult curves.

3:07 PM

Time to go see to the horses. Our young, pretty stable girls are blanketing them when I arrive. They look so cold, poor beasts.  The horses also look chilly.

I have not dressed warmly enough for the elements and find that my right toe is almost frozen when I come indoors again. Ma has always provided goose fat to smear on frostbitten extremities but we have none on hand. I will make do with organic fair trade coconut oil. The toe is saved, but my pedicurist will be unhappy with me.

5:37 PM

Mary comes in to find me, looking stricken. There is enough food for dinner, but we are perilously low on stevia. The night is falling fast and we don’t know what to do. Dare we risk a ride out? We might make it there, but with snow at almost ankle depth, we know we might not survive the return trip . There is only one thing to do: send Cap Garland and Almanzo out for the stevia. We settle around the stove wrapped in shawls to wait. It will be a long vigil.

Ma slowly grinds espresso beans by hand. We are all thinking about Pa and Cap and ‘Manzo but we do not speak of it. The night comes on and Mary and I do our sums by candlelight, until Ma snaps on the lights with an impatient gesture. She’s snappish worrying about Pa.

9:14 PM

The kerosene in the lamp is low and Ma still doesn’t understand why we’re studying by candlelight when we have just had custom track lighting installed. “I declare,” she says. “Are you two trying to ruin your eyes?” She is still snappish about Pa, who is still not here to play the fiddle for us. We head wearily up to bed, our bellies growling with hunger, as we have each only had a Lean Cuisine for our meagre supper. The wind and snow howl outside and we undress upstairs in the chilly air, grateful that Pa has thought to build a roof on this house and that we will not need to be shoveled out of bed in the morning as we were on Plum Creek.

We conclude our bedtime prayers by asking God to please bring us all safely through this terrible storm. We ask for a sign from heaven that our menfolk are safe: a break in the storm, a cheerful whistle in the wind or the sound of stomping boots outside the door would be so welcome. Or even just a text message.













5 Replies to “A Winter Storm Memoir: With Apologies To Laura Ingalls Wilder”

  1. “Mary and I are thinking that maybe Ma forgot to refill her prescription for anxiety medication but we are obediently stripping the beds.” LOL!

  2. Love this! I found myself re-reading the whole series a couple of years ago and really loving The Long Winter, so much more than I did as a child. Thanks for the playful weaving of past and present – sounds like you spent your storm-bound time well. Hope you and all up north are recovering from the storm.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.