22 March 2012

snowed in

It snowed about six inches two nights ago, and I woke up to a delightful world of white. It was pretty.

Then the power went out, which was fine. I don't mind getting ready for work in the dark. I have a headlamp.

(I know no power. I am familiar with no power. I had power about 40 minutes a day for the last few months I lived in Rwanda. I would leave the light on in my room so that when the power went on at, say, 2:10 am, I could get up and plug in all my electronics to take advantage of every minute I had power. And remember these days?)

So I got ready in the dark, thinking, "Adventure!" Life is so boring here, sometimes.

I had smartly started parking my car in the garage the last few weeks so that it would not be snowed/sleeted upon. We live just high enough in the hills that a sprinkling of snow or ice on a winter morning is not uncommon.

When I was all ready for the day, I piled things into my arms, hit the garage door button, and stepped outside.

Oh, ha. Ha and ha.

My house, I may have mentioned, is built into a steep hill. It is on stilts, essentially, and it goes down so fast from the road that even the driveway is a deck out over nothing. The garage is detached from the house, and the only door to it is the car-sized door, on the garage door opener.

"Just detach the chain!" people told me all day, and I had to explain again and again that the problem was not that I couldn't get the car out of the garage. I know how to detach the garage door opener. The problem was that I couldn't get into the garage. My car and I were parted by the garage door.

As I layered on my rain pants and gaiters and skiing gloves, I was infinitely grateful for the privilege of having spent money on waterproof gear. SHO and/or I commented earlier this week that money does not buy happiness, but not having it can make you miserable. On cold days, being warm and dry can feel a whole lot like happiness.

I set out by foot through a maze of snow and downed tree branches. It took me a while of walking to figure out that this warm, wet snow is heavy, and the trees here are not accustomed to snow, and so the pieces break off much more easily than they would in the Mitten.

A little girl showed me her snow child and snow animals in her driveway. A guy came snowboarding past me, all the way down the long hill. A wire hung low over the road in one spot, and the snowboarder, after offering me a chance at his snowboard, told me that the road had been blocked by a fallen tree on the longer, less steep route out of the neighborhood.

My coworker with traction tires and all-wheel drive (people in this part of the world have no idea how to handle snow) picked me up exactly 1.1 miles into my walk in the direction of work. We arrived almost two hours late. Most people didn't make it at all.

At 9 pm, after I'd gone home to pick up the stuff I would need to stay at a friend's house, my neighbor called me to tell me that the lights were back.

I haven't been that excited about lights since Liberia c. 2006, when Ma Ellen turned the streetlights on. Admittedly, it isn't so much about the lights here as it is about 1. sleeping in my own bed instead of someone's futon, 2. accessing my vehicle and being once again independent, and 3. warm water in the middle of winter. Cold showers in Liberia are not a problem. Cold showers in a house without heat while there is snow on the ground are an entirely different prospect.

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