Friday, April 20, 2007

Rocky Mountain Cold [CCR]

Here I sit in California again trying to figure out how I am going to adjust my time schedule for the week and then torture myself again Friday. My day started at 4:00 AM Eastern Time and won’t end before 10:00 PM Pacific Time. It would not be so bad except the trip out here seems to take forever. The only break is a look at the snow peaked Rockies and a short stop in Salt Lake City. It is a wonder to see from a distance.

We didn’t see any snow capped mountains growing up in Alabama. Granted we saw snow, but that snow was shared among all of us in the hills of Colbert County and down near the river valley. Comfort lay in the fact that the snow was only temporary and life would return to normal in a day or two. The ice was our dreaded enemy.

That evil mixture of air and water that lays between the frozen solidity of snow and the wet splash of rain would leave a crust of ice. We saw it fall as either sleet or freezing rain. Either way we heard the sound of limbs cracking under the weight of ice. Only luck would determine if we kept our electricity. And then an equal amount of luck determined the extent of damage and how long before power was restored to the countryside.

We culled samples of both the dry wood to heat the fire and green wood to make the fire last. Between the two samples we kept the wood heater burning and the house warm. I ventured out to either replenish the wood box or empty the ashes from the stove tray.

People often snuggled beneath the roasting warmth of their electric blankets. Not in my case. I hate to say it, but I made the prohibition of such blankets a part of my life. As a child we had electric blankets until one night lightning found its way to my blanket and gave me a buzz I won’t forget. For me those cold nights meant snuggling into a pile of quilts and curling into a warm ball. By now, even if a blanket were double sure safe, the nostalgia of the quilts prevent my return to artificial heat.

With quilts keeping my bed warm I would cover my head and hear the fan on the wood heater blowing comfort throughout the house while the electricity lasted. I always dreaded venturing out the next morning to feel the cool air. Once out of bed you hurried to get dressed. If the electricity had died through the night you hurried to the bath hoping to get a last drop of hot water. If the hot water was gone, maybe you could warm some on the stove once the fire was roaring again.

Today I travel through Ohio and see older homes with fireplaces. I know how cold winter gets in Ohio and I wonder how these folks made it through their winters. Just the thought of how cold it would be without our modern creature comforts makes me long for home. Now you know why my return flight over the Rockies may be just as beautiful from a distance, but I have no desire to get a closer look. I’ll take my week here in Orange County and enjoy the warmth and hope that Ohio has actually found spring before my return.