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Brief Re-Cap: Annoyed by the loss of our TV signal due to an alarming snowstorm, I have just dashed out the back door, intent on some vague form of resolution…
I’m only on the back patio for roughly two seconds before Partner bustles out the door after me. I have been spewing crazy talk about trying to fix the satellite dish so we can watch “Survivor”, and his preservation instincts have kicked in. I am about to mess with something that involves the intricate network of electronics in this house, and he knows better than to let me run around unsupervised.
Partner grabs the broom that we keep outside to clean up after our exuberant parties wherein drunken people break things (which is why we try to restrict our friends to the patio area, whenever possible), and then he starts marching toward the back of the house. I scamper along behind him, pleased that he appears to be joining my crusade, but really not sure what his intentions might be. He can be shifty sometimes.
As we enter the yard proper, I’m stunned to realize that we are actually trudging through snow that is over a foot deep. (This is going to be all over the late evening news. This mess might even knock the Dallas Cowboys out of their perpetual presence as the lead story. But probably not. The Cowboys will still be the feature, showing the quarterback looking all sad as he gazes out his designer window, despondent because he can’t practice outside. The fans will set up a GoFundMe account to support him in his time of emotional need, with millions being diverted from the homeless to someone who already has millions.)
As we stagger along, Partner barks out for me to grab the ladder we carelessly left leaning against the back of the house the last time we had to get on the roof. (Long story, we’ll save it for another time.) I grab the indicated item, and I attempt to carry it with me. This plan of action doesn’t last very long. It’s hard enough just trying to keep myself upright and mobile as we fight our way through the dense snow. Throw in a big-ass ladder, and my efforts are doomed. Within a few steps I am just dragging the damn thing behind me.
But the odd, plunging crunches of our feet navigating the yard brings on certain memories. Dallas may have never seen this much snow, but Tulsa certainly has, and suddenly I’m back in my formative years in my hometown. We got serious snow back in that day.
As kids, we worshipped snowy weather, and the thrilling potential that school might be closed for the next day or two. (Or an entire week; we certainly went there a few times.) Us younguns would huddle around the TV at night, excitedly watching the news that we normally avoided at all costs, hoping that one of the oddly-groomed newscasters would announce the shut-down of our school district. As soon as our town name scrolled across the screen, we would erupt into spasms of glorious pleasure, and our parents would quietly uncap the vodka, knowing it would take even longer to get our asses in bed that night.
Of course, sometimes the school boards and the news media would toy with us, not making the announcement until early the next morning. At those times, we would all be out of bed hours before we normally rose, glued to the TV and the delicious anticipation, promising all known gods that we would serve them duly for a chance bit of freedom.
Once the closure was officially sanctioned, we would race around in a mad frenzy, planning all of the exciting things we could do on a day where no one would be asking us to spell words or try to multiply figures. Whilst our slightly-hungover parents were sliding their way off to mysterious places of employment where vicious rulers did not grant them free days, we had the complete and total run of the neighborhood.
School buses might not be able to roll more than a few feet before becoming lodged in menacing snowdrifts, but any child worth a hoot could manage to traverse miles of packed snow and join up with kindred children looking for adventure. If our parents had only known half of the mischief we got into when school was closed, they would have begged the school board to run the buses anyway. Even if we ended up incubating in a ditch somewhere, at least there was an authority figure involved.
Flash back to the present.
I’ve come to a halt in the frozen tundra of the backyard, with the behemoth ladder stretching out behind me, neglected at the moment as I reminisce. There’s a slight tendril of drool dripping from my chin and then freezing in the arctic air, as I remember the glorious enchantment of Snow Days Gone By.
Partner breaks my reverie. “Could you maybe bring the ladder over here, where I’m standing? Because I need it. Over here. Not over there. Where apparently you and the ghost of an afro-haired Barbra Streisand are singing a duet about memories being the corners of your mind.”
I shake it off, tromp a few feet forward, hoist the ladder, and then unfold it below the chimney where our satellite dish is located. I rock the ladder back and forth to work the feet into the snow, then motion that Sarcasmo can now climb the steps to Heaven. And perhaps he could consider staying up there, where his wit is less intrusive.
Partner clambers onto the ladder, dragging along the broom as he ascends into the still-falling snow. I grip the ladder and try to hold it in place as he climbs past that intriguing demarcation line on the apparatus that says “do not step higher than this or you will die.”
Partner, precariously perched on the forbidden upper steps of the ladder, pulls the broom up and begins whacking away at the deep layer of snow encrusted on the dish. Immediately, gallons of icy crystals are pelting me at the base of the ladder. I don’t say a word. Why complain about wetness when you have been wet for the better part of four hours? And not in a good way. (Besides, a dim section of my brain is vaguely aware that he’s doing this for me, and I’d best save the commentary for a more appropriate moment. Like this post.)
Partner, after a bit: “Did I get it all?”
I bite my tongue, again. How the hell do you expect me to know? You’re the one that’s up there. I’m the one down here trying to keep us from toppling into what’s left of our expensive, pre-snow landscaping shrubbery that will not welcome our tumbling arrival with any degree of proper etiquette. But I tilt my head back anyway, and I get whacked in the face repeatedly by chunks of ice as Partner continues to bang at the chimney like Dick van Dyke in the Siberian version of “Mary Poppins”.
Did I really go to college for this?
Eventually, with what’s left of my tattered vision, I can see that the dish is relatively clear. “You’re good,” I pronounce. “I think you got it.”
“All of it?”
“Well, there’s still a little bit of snow on the left but-”
“Where? Where is there still snow?”
Why the hell did I even mention the smidge of snow? It can’t be causing any problems, as it’s just a tiny little crusty bit. When will I learn to just let things be? So I lie. “Looks perfect. Totally clean.”
Partner works his way down the ladder, leaps off, and then marches toward the patio. I fold up the ladder and tag along. Halfway to the patio door, I notice a very enticing, unblemished section of frozen, powdery temptation. It would be a perfect place to make a snow angel.
And back I go again, to a simpler age, when your sole focus was creating a temporary, fragile angel that only briefly left its mark before forces you can’t control took that away. When things were innocent, before the baggage of time, and the drudgery, chiseled away at the base of innocent, inspired creation.
Partner on the patio, stamping his feet: “Are you coming?”
“Yep. Be right there.“ I said a quiet, reluctant goodbye to the pure patch of undisturbed whiteness. Miss you, old friend, Mr. Snow. Whatever happened? When did I lose the joy of the possibilities?
I lean the folded ladder against the back of the house, where it’s probably going to remain for even more months until we get around to putting it in its proper place. This is one of those prices you pay when getting older. You learn to ration, when appropriate, instead of gunning it all out to do everything you can. Some things can wait, and sometimes it’s best that they do so.
Back in the house, there are cries of triumph upon confirmation that we once again have a TV signal. “Survivor” will be starting in just a few minutes, so I race to change clothes and grab my trusty clipboard so that I can take cryptic notes for the eventual blog entry. This is serious business with me, and I must be prepared.
As we peruse the latest episode filled with conniving people doing questionable things, the snow continues to deepen outside.
Hours later, as I’m hunched over my laptop and working on the blog, trying to be creative and entertaining even though it’s late and I’m getting tired, there’s a sudden odd noise from somewhere at the other end of the house. I can’t even begin to envision what might make a sound like that, because I’ve never heard anything quite like it.
The next sound is much more familiar, as Partner slides open the patio door and marches out to investigate. Good. He’ll let me know if I should be concerned. I continue typing, unaware that I am living the last relaxing moments I will have in this dwelling for the next several days.
Partner stomps back into the house and down the hallway to the office. “You need to see this.”
“Why? What is it?”
“Just come look.” He turns and walks away.
I hastily throw on shoes and a jacket, then catch up with him outside as he’s crunching across the backyard. Then he stops and just points.
A massive, multi-limbed chunk of one of the neighbor’s trees has fallen on the power and utility lines between the alley pole and our house. The force of the impact has caused the wires to rip sizable pieces of trim off the back of the house, which in turn caused the demarcation boxes for the phone and the broadband cable to break lose. They are now dangling in the wind, barely attached.
More importantly, and more disturbingly, the power line itself has taken a severe hit. That metal pipe where the power goes down into your roof? It’s no longer standing straight up. It’s been slammed on its side and is extending off the back of the house, the mangled base of the pipe somehow still clinging to the roof. This is SO not good.
Partner plays a flashlight over the fallen section of tree. This thing is huge. But even with all that weight, the power lines are not actually touching the ground yet. Instead, they are creaking in the snowy night with what must be an incredible amount of pressure.
How the hell do we even have power? We should be in the dark.
I glance at the pristine section of snow where, a few hours ago, I had reflected on memories of distant childhood thrills, the fun you could have in the white. So, it’s come to this, has it, Mr. Snow? I gave you all those angels, and now you are trying to destroy my house and possibly burn down the neighborhood. We need to talk.
Click here to read the next installment in this series.
Categories: The Stories