Having a blizzard is a huge inconveninece. There are slippery roads, damaging winds, dangerous tides, and power outages. Our backs all feel the stain of shoveling some 18 inches of heavy, slushy snow.
Yet, an event such as our recent storm Nemo provides an opportunity to once again see the generosity all around us. Our family was fortunate enough to never lose power. We stayed warm and were able to cook and eat well. Many of our neighbors and extended family weren't so lucky. As soon as we were shoveled out, (no easy feat, as we were dealing with 5 foot drifts), we became a home away from home for our daughter Nichol and her room mate Jessie, our neice Jessica, her daughter Annah, and our nephew Peter. The first night, we rejoiced at the lasagna I had made and frozen, which made a perfect meal with some biscuits and salad. Everyone warmed up in front of the fire place and filled their bellies with warm food. Most appreciated a hot shower. With a shortage of guest rooms, we had people sleeping on the couch, the living room floor and in our school building. Sunday morning brought no news of power restoration for our guests, but the roads were safer for travel. John helped Jessica rescue her guinea pigs from their condo. These poor creatures have their roots in South America and can't withstand the cold. They loved their new temporary home in the school building, especially when the sun streamed through the slider. They loved life even more when they met Aimee and Nichol, who held cuddled and fed them. Sunday afternoon brought a surprise visit from our brother in law, Frank, who cheerfully plowed out the remainder of our back driveway. He took a break and came in to warm up with the first hot cup of coffee in a couple of days and some fresh chocolate chip cookies. John went to pick up his mom, who really didn't want to leave her apartment even though she was without heat and lights. She enjoyed an afternoon of visiting with her grandchildren, and when she became overwhelmed by just how many of them there were to enjoy, a glass of wine saved the day! Nichol and Jessie returned to their home to grab the food they had put in the snow, deciding to share their hard earned groceries with the rest of us. There was spaghetti and meatballs for lunch. There were sides of sharing and laughter, which we all enjoyed more. In the afternoon, we were cleared out enough for me to teach my Sunday yoga class to my two students who could make it, along with the guinea pigs, who clearly thought we were crazy.
When it was time to think about supper, Jessica generously jumped in and declared that I was not cooking this time. She made a wonderful meal of baked chicken, mashed potatoes, zucchini and corn. While she was cooking, the kids and I braved the outdoors. Aimee and I taught Annah to make her first snow angel, while the older kids pummeled eachother with snowballs. Nichol took pictures of everyone in the massive snowbank created by the plow. We treked in and stripped off wet boots, gloves, snow pants and hats, grateful that we could dry them and warm up. After dinner, the big kids shared their energy and cleaned the kitchen.
Aimee and I asked if we could give Annah a tubbie...a little break for her mom, and a delight for me, as it's been 7 years since a little person has needed me to draw their tub, wash their hair and ensure that they stayed safe. The smell of baby shampoo and memories can be intoxicating. Aimee was a generous assistant, offering her princess washcloth, bath toys and kids soap.
Evening brought power back to my mother-in-law's home. As we approached her apartment complex, there was a strip without power. She made us laugh with her prayer for lights and the peace of her home: "Dear God, please let there be lights and heat. Abracadabra!" Thankfully, she wasn't disappointed and was able to take a hot shower and settle in with her cat and a good book, away from the chaos of our house. Sunday night brought more floor sleepers, though by this time we had resurrected an air mattress and Nichol and Jessie brought theirs. I rocked Annah to sleep while Jessica took a hot shower. Jessica, Annah and Peter shared their space with our cats, Nala, Grace and Sebastian. Miracously, the air mattress survived.
Monday came with the news of no school, and hence no daycare. Nichol and Jessie had their power restored, and Jessica's was restored later in the day. We breathed a collective sigh of relief as everyone was able to retreat to the comfort of their own space.
There were 7 loads of laundry to catch up all of the towels and bedding. There was cleaning to do, and getting ready to reopen the daycare. There was quiet. There was peace. Most of all, there was the wistful space created when family and friends gather and share to such a degree and then go back to their busy lives. I'm grateful for the snow, for the inconvenience, for the time, for the memories, and for the love and generosity.