It was so wonderful to be there, safe at home, sheltered from the winds and cold. — Laura Ingalls Wilder, American author (1867-1957)
There was something about the prairie for me-it wasn’t where I had come from but when I moved there it just took me in and I knew I’d never stop living under that big sky. — Pam Houston, American novelist (1962-)
We wrapped exposed pipes with grocery store plastic bags; turned off as much water as we could before the freeze; checked the propane tank for an alternate means of heat in case the electricity went off. Cabinet doors were opened and faucets dripped. We had plenty of leftovers and a pantry full of staples. We might run out of produce, but we wouldn’t starve.
The plants in the greenhouse were a concern. A couple of days of wintery cold wouldn’t hurt but ten days or more could do some damage. We kept the heat lamps on and added an electric heater. Rolls of bubble wrap were taped to the windows on the north side. Sam covered the goldfish pond with boards and rocks. We thought we were about as prepared as we could be. Within a couple of days both the lakes iced over. The goldfish pond was iced over too. With one of the rocks, I broke a small area for oxygen and scattered fish food knowing they probably wouldn’t need it being so cold. Then I returned the board cover. Every day we replenished the birdfeeders.
Though we rested, did our chores, entertained ourselves, our usual routines were disrupted. Sam couldn’t go fishing, and I couldn’t go anywhere. At some point it occurred to me this is what you do during holidays and “staycations.” Perhaps I should just enjoy the time spent watching ball games, reading books, talking, or taking a short walk in the cold.
Eventually Sam could wait no longer. He wanted to go fishing. We discussed it a bit; I wasn’t so sure it was a good idea. The temperatures were warming, he said, and he’d dress warm and wear his life jacket. I looked out across the Prairie. The ice on the lakes was melting but the winds were still strong. He waited ‘til the sun had been up a couple of hours, made coffee, and then was on his way.
Sam was right about the warming temperatures. It had risen to the mid-60s by afternoon. It turned out to be a beautiful day.
While Sam was gone, I ventured out to the greenhouse. Guessing, I’d say about 20 percent of the plants had been damaged. Some plants were too far gone. Some just needed water. I learned the hard way a few years back not to underestimate their ability to survive. For the ones that were damaged I snipped away the damaged parts and kept the roots or stems. There’s a good chance they’ll return later.
It felt really good to be able to reclaim our routines. I washed three loads of laundry. I had been hesitant during the freeze. Even the laundry chore seemed good- folding warm clothing, sheets, and towels, putting them all away. The scent of aloe permeating the room. The cold left and moderate temperatures returned. The slowdown and the peacefulness had been good to us.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer living quietly in the Prairie. Email reaches her at email@example.com.
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