The freezing temperatures usually came with night fall, thwarted by the sun in the daylight hours. However, one day i listened intently to the radio as the weatherman predicted a low of 24. As i scrolled through the weather app on my phone i realized that it would not be above freezing again until 10 am the following morning. The blankets alone would not be enough to keep the young fruit trees from freezing with temperatures in the twenties. They would need the heat lamps. But the heat lamps could not be run without human supervision and a fire extinguisher on stand by. I had work in the morning. I bit my lip. The weather had thrown me a curve ball. What to do? What to do? Finally it came to me! I usually woke up around 2:30 am and made it to work at 5:30 am. I did this for two reasons. Most of my job involved assisting people with safety and independence during dressing, toileting, and bathing tasks. Once the patients had done these things for the day they weren’t typically willing to do them again. If you missed the shower they were not going to take a second one just because you asked politely. No, if you wanted to catch the self care tasks you had to get up before breakfast and see the early birds first and see the patients that got dressed after breakfast second. The other reason i went in so early was my multiple jobs on the side. If i needed to travel to a different facility in a different city before the patients began supper i had to start at my full-time job fairly early to fit it in. It would feel very strange to be just beginning my day around lunch time but if i could manage to go in to work later than usual i could keep the heat lamps on the trees until the temperature reached the thirties. It was decided. I would go in to work around 10 am the morning after the hard freeze.
It was strange to see the sun rise the following morning. I was used to leaving the house in the dark. There was ice on all the blades of grass and they crunched under my feet as i went to check the heat lamps in the tree boxes.
Ice crystals had formed in patterns on the side of the car and a thin layer of ice covered the side mirror sticking straight up like little hairs in a buzz cut.
To my utter delight, though it was 25 degrees outside, the fruit trees were warm and toasty in their boxes and all 3 heat lamps were still working.
The dogs, seeing that it was past 5:00 and i was still home decided we were having a day off and settled into our weekend routine. We were not having a day off, just a late start, but they didn’t seem to be getting the message. They enjoyed my company, drank a ton of water, and hunkered down in front of the space heater for warmth.
At 9:40 i could wait no longer. If i didn’t leave right then i would never finish my list of patients to be seen before they went to bed for the day. It was still only 29 degrees. It didn’t matter. I’d given the trees the best chance i could. It was time to go. I switched off the heat lamps and covered the boxes quickly with blankets to trap the heat inside. I loaded the car, put the dogs up, scraped the windshield, and headed for work. It was a strange day. I felt very far behind upon arriving to work. I had to work harder to coax the patients into working on their self care because it was already mid-day, but i was determined and persuasive and most all of them worked on the goals i had planned for the day. I felt massively depressed that my paperwork had just begun mid-afternoon, at a time when i would normally be in the car headed home already. I was big on routine and didn’t normally deviate from my usual schedule. However, i felt an enormous sense of accomplishment in that the fruit trees would probably survive. And they did. I didn’t get to leave work that day until almost 8:00 pm. However, upon returning home to put the lamps on again i found the trees were in good condition, none of the leaves wilted or frosted.