There is always something magical about the first snowfall of the year. While there have been a few hints of winter in the air already, it’s been a long autumn, and last week I was able to pick a bouquet of late-blooming flowers: calendula, wild yarrow, wild goldenrod (Solidago), wild Queen Anne’s Lace, a second flush of cultivated yarrow in a brilliant cerise-magenta, flat-leaf parsley for greenery.
The rain turned to wet snow just before lunch on Sunday. I was reminded that I hadn’t called about snow plowing, because the neighbour who did it last year (and who, thankfully, agreed to do it again this year) is a potato farmer, and when I first thought about phoning him it was the height of the potato harvest. I thought it would be better to wait until after the harvest was in; and then, naturally enough, I forgot until the snow started to come down more thickly.
I had bought the stakes necessary to line my driveway to show where it goes, but they were, and are, still sitting in the back of my car. The ground is nowhere near frozen, and it is likely to melt by the end of the week, so I will have a chance to do the last-minute pre-winter tasks I did not accomplish: staking the driveway, putting away the water hoses, putting straw bales around the base of my house. (I haven’t found a good seaweed beach, so I can’t go for the other local option of seaweed insulation.) Admitted the straw insulation will look … rural, but so does my house, and last winter some of my pipes froze because I did not take this precaution. I did order the straw, but it was supposed to come on Sunday afternoon, and by then the weather was too bad.
By mid-afternoon, I had given up on the straw delivery and was thinking about going into town for supper at my parents’. I fed the ducks and the cat (new additions to my household, the cat only just last week, the ducks at the end of the summer), piled a few logs in the stove to smoulder away, put the dog in the car, and watched as the snowplow came by on the road.
Very good, I thought, and got about a kilometre down the road before I decided that snowplow or no snowplow, it was unsafe. I returned home, phoned my parents to let them know the decision, and had a look at the weather.
Heavy, wet snow–and high winds.
I started to fill pots and pitchers with water. I can heat my house with the wood stove (I was organized for wood, and have in the region of 4 cords in my garage), I can light it with candles, and I can cook on top of the stove–but my water comes from a well, and the pump requires electricity.
Wet snow and high winds means downed branches, trees, and power lines–and power poles, too, as I discovered subsequently. My power flickered a few times and went out around 5:30pm. I lit the candles, a collection of fat beeswax lights and a quantity of tealights I put in the windows. It’s not quite Saint Lucy’s day, which is when I was planning on putting up the window candles–a tradition here in the Maritimes, usually with battery-operated ones nowadays–but I thought it a good gesture against the storm. I found my flashlights. I unplugged the computer. I phoned my parents to find out that there were no problems in town; when I phoned Maritime Electric to check on the outage I gave up when the listing of every town with a power outage got to ‘M’.
By Monday morning, when I phoned again, the recording simply said ‘All communities east of Pownal [a small town just east of Charlottetown] are without power.’
I had already taken out the food for supper, so I cooked pasta on the stove. Just before it was ready I saw lights coming into the driveway, and I went to the door to find my neighbours down the hill had come by in their huge pick-up truck to see if I was all right and offer me the use of their house (which has a generator). I thanked them and said I was fine, but it was wonderful that they came by.
Then I hunkered down with my supper and my book and thought about all those generations before me who didn’t even have the wood stove.
Like them, however, I went to bed early.
I woke to Narnia snow and sunlight, and though we are just entering winter–well, it was no so very long ago that I was planting crocus and other bulbs for the spring of the year. And Christmas is just around the corner.