Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Nocturnal adventure

Yes, we have had quite a bit of snow. For the most part, it has been nice. Colorado snow is usually what snow should be: fluffy, white, and beautiful. Combine that with the warm temperatures that usually follow and lots of solar radiation, and for us, that means snow can be experienced in shirt sleeves and quickly melts off all the roads and pathways. We have not been too inconvenienced by the snow, but, because we’ve had so much, we did have a few days there of icky gray icy stuff. A few more inches of powder over the weekend took care of that. It’s above freezing and sunny again today.

So snow in Colorado I don’t mind so much. But the wind can be brutal. We regularly have 90mph winds in our neighborhood and those days are tough. Or maybe I should say nights, because the winds mostly happen at night, but can go on for days.

It was a week ago and we were in a bit of climactic shock after returning from our tropical vacation with Greg’s family. We were pleased that we were able to drive our car out of the park-and-ride (an uncovered lot with lots of new snow during the interval we were away)—just barely—without getting stuck in the snow for too long. The long day of travel, the snow, tired children, a frozen hatchback door, all conspired to somehow keep us from putting on socks. The snow and the close call getting stuck at the park-and-ride kept us from parking in our driveway, so we walked the last block to the house in flip flops with suitcases and sleeping children. That was a sight I am sure.

The next day we unpacked, moved back in, took down the holiday decorations to prepare for Kadin’s birthday, and hunkered down for the predicted windstorm, safe and cozy in the house. The storms are LOUD. When people say hurricanes sound like a freight train, they are right. Everyone has trouble sleeping on such nights. I am always a bit worried about what might blow away outside or what might blow into the house. Just after Greg and I got into bed and read for a bit, the power went out. So we went to sleep.

At about 2:30 in the morning, Kadin came up to say his leg hurt. I put him back to bed and remembered the visions I’d been having all night of the Christmas tree that I’d put out in front of the house blowing into the window like a javelin or breaking off some of the small new trees I’d planted out front. The snow was gusting up against the windows, the wind was roaring, and outside did not look fit for man or beast. I could see the Christmas tree lashing up against the new sumacs I’d planted. I’ll just do it, I thought, run out and move it to the back. It will only take a second and then I’ll sleep better.

So I put on a coat and shoes, unlocked the deadbolt and dashed out. Luckily it was not too cold and I quickly found a better spot to deposit the tree. Dashed back to the front door to find it…locked. I had forgotten about the lock on the knob. We usually don’t use that and it was dark so I didn’t see that it was locked. No big deal, I’ll go in through the garage. But the garage is electric and the electricity was still out. No dice. So that’s why the kids were sleeping without their night lights…. Okay, so another door. I mentally go through the other doors and know they are all locked as I had just checked them that evening and, since we’d been away, everything was double checked and tight. Fine, I’ll have to wake Greg up with the doorbell. Only—uh oh—no doorbell, that requires power too. It was LOUD with the wind/freight train. I tried knocking, to no avail. I pictured Greg sleeping soundly with five pillows stacked on his head to keep out the sound of the wind. I called and I knocked and the sound got sucked away as soon as it was made. At first I worried that I might wake the kids, then I hoped I would! I had plenty of time to think through options and I couldn’t think of any. Wake a neighbor and call? How could I wake a neighbor if I couldn’t wake Greg? Who would be up if the power was out? Finally I decided to trek around to the back of the house. There was a nice, bright moon. If it weren’t for the wind it would have been peaceful with the white snow and no electric lights. But then I felt very visible, like mountain lion bait. The trek was daunting in 2ft of snow, but luckily the snow had mostly blown away by then into big drifts in the field behind. When I called and knocked on the back, by Greg’s head, he heard me and came to the front door.

“What in the world are you doing out here????” he asked, incredulous, “Do you often walk around in the middle of the night?”

I explained the conspiracy of circumstances. So I survived the windstorm in the end and got back to sleep eventually. The next morning on the walk to school I noticed a strange square in the snow next to our neighbor’s house. Inside were toy dinosaurs and a plastic play fence. How odd that this little set up survived the snow and the wind. Something was missing, though. What used to be there? And then, about 50ft down the path, I saw their wooden sandbox smashed against some boulders. Another 20ft down the path was the awning for the sandbox that had turned into a sail. Whoa.

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