Wednesday, March 04, 2015

IWSG Wednesday - Snow Days



The Insecure Writer's Support Group

I have a special guest post this Wednesday from a friend in my writer's group. Her name is Debra Clay and she writes short stories/flash fiction with a unique style. This month, as we look forward to spring, her short story "Snow Days" seemed to be exactly right, uplifting. I hope you enjoy it! Also don't forget to visit our Co-Hosts this month and thank them.  

Snow is one of nature’s most enigmatic occurrences. Whether viewed from the front porch or under a microscope, it is beautiful. Yet it can be one of nature’s most destructive forces. I remember my first snow days from school. As a matter of fact, living in South Georgia, they were my only snow days from school. Although we in the south are more accustomed to dealing with heat and thunderstorms accompanied by lots of lightning, the rare snow storm does occur.
It was in March of 1962 and what a storm it was! Forty-mile-an-hour winds, temperatures in the upper twenties and, yes, snow…wet, heavy snow that stuck wherever it landed. Tree limbs, power lines, clothes lines and anything that could fall, did. Needless to say life came to a standstill with power outages affecting half the state. We were used to having to ‘rough it’ without power, but only for a few hours in the summer. We would raise the windows to let in the cooling breeze, cook supper on the grill, light some candles at night and generally have a high old time. Not so in winter, I discovered. We’re talking three days—three days without power. The only heat was what our own bodies generated and who wants to grill outside in subfreezing weather? I thought my life was ending after only 8 short years on this earth.
Fortunately for me (and my siblings) Mom and Dad grew up in a time when there were none of the conveniences that my generation had become accustomed to. They huddled in a corner for a while, hatching a plan to keep us all alive until the power was restored. Then Dad began to issue orders.
“Okay boys. Take your wagon and gather as much wood as you can. Girls, you follow your mother to the kitchen and, and…do whatever she tells you.”
We ultimately settled in the smoke house where a large kettle set in hollowed out concrete served as fireplace, water heater and cook fire. We girls had helped mother bring cast iron cookware and food from the kitchen. We bathed in warm water taken from the kettle, ate sausages and biscuits cooked over coals pulled from beneath the kettle, and generally had a high old time. It was just like hog-killing, only without the hogs. Sleeping on burlap tobacco sheets spread on the ground was the only tough part of that adventure (if you don’t count having to go outside to take care of business. Mom and Dad didn’t worry about us being out there. The cold and the darkness insured we didn’t stay out for long.), but at least we were warm in the smokehouse, full and safe.
Those snow days taught me to appreciate the things that made life pleasant: central heat, a kitchen stove, running water, a soft bed, electric lights, a room of my own and, of course, a flush toilet. I’m all grown up now and sometimes when I feel down, unloved, unwanted, and insignificant I take ‘snow day’ stock of my life, making a list of all the things I am grateful for but sometimes take for granted: family, a home, good health, US citizenship, education, income, transportation… My list is five pages long and growing daily. This exercise certainly chases away the blues and serves as a reminder that, I am having a high old time.
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22 comments:

  1. We do take the luxuries of life for granted, such as heat, don't we? I'm sure it was more frightening for those parents than the kids. That smoke house couldn't have been comfortable, and I would have worried about the fumes. Interesting story!

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  2. Our real blessing here up north where we've had a challenging winter, is that so far, we haven't lost power. That is always the most difficult part of a snow storm.

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  3. The way people lived in the past never ceases to amaze me.

    IWSG #142 until Alex culls the list again.

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  4. Loss of power is a great reminder of how powerful mother nature is. Lots of kids wouldn't know what to do like your parents did. I think mine could handle it. The longest we've gone in the winter was two days but we're lucky to have a fireplace.

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  5. I hate snow. But winter is a nice excuse to stay inside and finish my manuscripts!

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  6. Losing power means losing so much we rely on these days. Most people wouldn't know how to be as resourceful as your parents were.

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  7. I like that term: taking snow day stock!

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  8. I'm not even going to talk about weather. We don't have any in CA. When we do, we become cowering sissies. A little rain and we stay inside. Losing power makes us weep. We should all be required to spend one winter in New Hampshire as weather boot camp.

    Reading your book and really enjoying it. Love the character of Celia.

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  9. Well, I had this really adorable comment and it vanished. It had to do with weather and all kinds of exciting topics. Oh well, my the internet rot in that place down below.

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  10. Snow is okay... in moderation. November and December snow is generally fine here in Michigan, but January and February snow is terrible. At least we've made it to March.

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  11. Brrr.

    It's good that you learned not to take things for granted. How often we do...

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  12. You were living like they did in Little House on the Prairie. We had to do something similar one year when an ice storm knocked out our power and well water.

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  13. Perfect timing as I sit here waiting for a big snowstorm to throw a wrench into my plans. I am going to just go with it and be grateful that chances are I will be warm.
    I have memories of the 1962 blizzard too. My father built us an igloo and we were so lucky to have a fireplace.

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  14. I grew up in Michigan and remember those winters well. Love the snow but not the cold. And I'll refrain from any "writing in the snow" jokes.

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  15. Brrrrr! The only place I've had heavy snow that wasn't accustomed to it was in Oregon. I lived about half an hour from the coast, so the snow was wet and heavy. Our power went out, and we watched transformers around the town blow in bright colored sparks. It was definitely an interesting experience, but I'm grateful it only lasted one night. I like what you say about taking a "snow day" to take stock of the good. We all need to do that!

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  16. A flush toilet is such an essential for me. I remember camping with my parents as a kid (I was born in 1962) and I hated those outhouses. Your snow day seems like a camping trip, only in winter not summer. A good memory to pull out when you think things are tough now.

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  17. That was awesome! It's amazing the modern conveniences we take for granted, these days. Great story and an even better lesson underlying.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  18. I can see where something like this might be an adventure for kids. Sans power is kind of like roughing it camping. I loved having the snow days when I was in school, but not once can I recall going without power for any length of time as a result of the snow. Fun to hear your memories of this time.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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  19. Hi LIsa - I quite agree .. I think back to my early years and to the odd snippet passed on by relatives - about how difficult life was and how each 'thing' would always have another use at some stage ... Our snow storm lasted six weeks - but I don't remember how we heated or ate etc .. we were self-sufficient and had an Aga ... now I can't ask - that possibility has gone .. great read .. and yes aren't we lucky today - cheers Hilary

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  20. We don't have snows here. But thanks to your story I think I have a glimpse of how it really is. :)
    Happy weekend! And stay warm. ;)

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  21. Wow, Lisa, thanks for sharing your friend's post. It's an important reminder of how we can take so many conveniences and luxuries for granted everyday and how thankful we should really be. Great post. :)

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  22. We don't have snow either. Left it behind in Canada. But your post resonates just the same. In fact, it warmed my heart. Thanks for sharing this, Lisa.

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