Once upon a Blizzard

BlizzardPatio4Midwesterners not only experience a low cost of living, low crime rate and scenic cornfields, we share a rich heritage of blizzard stories.

Deprived tropics dwellers cannot appreciate our pulsating anticipation when The Weather Channel threatens wild winds, arctic cold and snow up the wazoo. Nor do they understand the joy of swapping lies — er, stories — of bravery amid Snowmageddon. A lifetime Hoosier, I have plenty to share.

A preschooler during my first blizzard, I recall my mother’s positive thinking. Despite three days in a two-room apartment with three little ones, she described the trees as “chocolate with white icing.” The Frosty we built resembled a malnourished alien, but we waved at him from our window. It seemed a friendly blizzard.

The second blizzard wasn’t. Winds howled like wolves, savaging electricity for several days. Cupboards emptied. Fortunately, shivering neighbors brought groceries when they came to enjoy our gas heat. Thirteen shared our three-bedroom, one-bathroom house. Survivor had nothing on us.

But we nine kids, playing infinite games of Monopoly, Candy Land, and the unofficial but essential Freak the Grown-ups, considered it fun. Our parents, with extended therapy and medication, finally recovered.

A young married couple when the Big One hit in 1978, our car (not-so-affectionately known as the Lemonmobile) refused to navigate three-foot drifts. My medical student husband hiked to a police station, where he caught a ride to a hospital. For three days, he, another student, and a young resident physician — aided by stranded visitors — cared for little patients on a pediatric wing.

Meanwhile, I baked bread. A nearby fellow medical student wife whose husband was also missing in action, helped eat it. On my way home, I foundered in a sea of snow-covered landmarks. Only a faint traffic signal in ghostly darkness sent me the right direction. Then a tall shadow blocked my way.

Gulp. The only rapist crazy enough to be out in this?

“How’s it goin’?” he rasped.

“F-f-fine.” I squeaked.

He passed by. I slogged home. When the snow finally stopped, my husband appeared, fell over like a tree and slept.

Not content with that harrowing weather, we moved north near South Bend, where blizzard stories abound even more than blizzards. Babies and emergencies ignored storm warnings, expecting my doctor husband to show up. How rude.

School snow days brought hungry hoards incapable of studying English or algebra, but well able to conduct snow wars outside our house. Once I was trapped with snow-dueling middle schoolers, teens armed with boom boxes, and soon-to-be-separated college sweethearts, VELCROed to each other — along with bathroom remodelers who braved the storm to slam sledgehammers against the walls.

Today, some predict an imminent blizzard. Unless electricity goes, my computer battery fails and I can’t find leftover Christmas candles to light my longhand efforts, I will do my usual January thing: tell blizzard stories.

What’s your favorite Snowmageddon tale?

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