The night before was a harrowing one. A winter storm was set to blow in and i was working the late shift at the store. I was supposed to get off at 9. The high wind gusts and sleet were supposed to begin at midnight. We were forecasted for one day of winter weather. Every human in a 500 mile radius ran to our store and bought everything in sight. I believe it’s called “panic buying” and it happens any time the weather man dares to utter the words “wintery mix”. All this really means is “sleet that we are trying desperately to pray and wish into snow.” It was not a good day. Everywhere, all day; panic stricken people frustrated that the shelves were empty; looking for bread, black eyed peas, wine, tamales, and hot chocolate. Gotta have the essentials i guess. It was a hyper-speed, non-stop, chaos sort of day. I was given the opportunity to stay late to help close. Though i was super grateful for the hours and my budget really needed the extra pay, it meant the winter storm would beat me home. I watched the hours tick by as i worked and i knew a whole new kind of chaos awaited me at home. When i clocked out i walked to the car in the dark, freezing rain falling everywhere. When i finally got myself and all my stuff into the dry sanctuary of my vehicle i put the key in the ignition and started driving away from town and back to the country, where i knew it would be colder and the storm would be worse. I was right. The further i got from town the more intense the lightening show was. By the time i made it to my property the lightening was blinding and the thunder shook the car. The temperature dropped from 40 to 39. We were now officially in the danger zone for the plants. I had to make sure their blankets hadn’t blown off before it got too much colder. The chickens needed the door placed on their coop. The dogs needed their supper and to be let out to potty. My mind raced with all the things i needed to do. It was delivery day for my imperfect foods box so i figured i would stop at the gate and get the box out of my toy box that i used as a mail bin while i was unlocking the chain that held the fence closed. As i pulled up to the property my heart sank. The lightening and the headlights worked in tandem to reveal that my entire property was a lake. Water as far as the eye could see. The driveway couldn’t even be made out. The second thing that dashed my hopes of an easy night was the mail bin. I could see the lid floating in the flood water around 8 feet away from the bin and the bin had become a new rain water collection tin…which the mail packages were now floating in. The cardboard had deteriorated, the tape losing its adhesive qualities, and the packing peanut material, being biodegradable as most good things are nowadays had turned to absolute ungraspable mush. I pulled at my jaw as i sat in the car staring at the gate. Another flash split the sky and thunder rocked the car. I figured i had better get out and get started. My property was the highest elevation around and so lightening struck often during storms. I needed to get the gate unchained and rechained quickly and see about getting out of the lightening. It was obvious i was not getting anywhere near the house with the car. It would sink into the mud and be useless to me. So i unchained the gate, loaded the soggy boxes into the trunk on the tarp i had in there for the dogs, rechained the gate in the lightening and the pouring rain while standing in ankle deep water, and drove the car as close to the house as i could get it to unload (twenty feet forwards). I opened the trunk and left it open while i made trip after trip through the ankle deep water carrying the groceries, the supplies i had bought in town before work earlier (gluten free flour and chemical free makeup), my purse, my jacket, my hat, my lunch box and water bottle, my book, and the lantern. I left the car on so i could use the high beams to light up the yard and see where the water was. I got the soggy groceries to the porch and left them there. As long as i got them unloaded by the time it hit 32, it should just be like refrigerating them. I put all my other stuff in the house. Then i ran back to the car and got in. I put it in reverse and somehow maneuvered it in reverse onto the mulch without hitting the trees i was trying to park it under in the pitch dark where i could only see when the lightening flashed. I rolled up the windows, closed the trunk, and picked my way through the water concealed mud until i got back to the house. I fed the dogs. While they ate supper in their crates i ran outside and put the door on the chicken coop. I had to wade through ankle deep water full of mud and probably chicken poop to get to them. A third of their chicken run was flooded. They stared at me from their roosting bars inside. I could see them when the lightening would flash. It was cold and windy so i put the door on and didn’t stick around to chit chat. I then ran back inside and released the dogs. I called them with me to the dog run as i picked through the flooded areas and tried not to step on any hidden rocks or tree stumps. The dogs skillfully followed me and leapt over the worst places. They were very uneasy about the lightening and hurried to do their business in the flooded dog run. I saw Sili squatting in the water, illuminated by the lightening momentarily. I ran back across the property to the orchard where the ground was slightly slanted and i thought there wouldn’t be as much standing water. I chuckled to myself that i had worried about the blankets blowing away in the wind. They were all under water. I sheltered the lantern with my jacket and ran back through the flooded yard to the house. I hurried to filter well water from the spigot before it froze, putting the freeze cover back on. I ran to the shed and grabbed a bag of tea and a dryer sheet for the laundry. Then i rushed to the dog run and opened the gate where the dogs were standing in ankle deep water waiting to be retrieved. I gave them the command to go to the house but i was drowned out by the thunder. I thrust my arm in the direction of the house and gave the command again. They both picked through the flood water and leapt onto the porch. I followed, launching myself from the nearby extra cement blocks like the ones under the house. Once inside my thoughts turned to the groceries. I dragged the soaked mushy foaming cardboard mess inside and began unloading the groceries into the refrigerator. When i was done i dumped the aftermath on the porch, to be dealt with on a more dry day. Once the groceries were inside i finally had time to take stock of myself. My shoes, pants, jacket, and hat were soaked. I was wet and cold. I began stripping off the layers of wet clothing in the bathroom. I was suddenly side tracked by the enormous mess in the kitchen. I used paper towels and cleaned the whole floor. As i continued getting out of wet clothes and intro dry ones i turned around to see that the dogs had distributed globs of mud all over the floor of the tiny house; everywhere. I finished putting on dry pants, threw my wet clothes in the washing machine, put all the other dirty clothes in with them, grabbed all the towels to be washed as well, and loaded the machine with soap. I started a load before the mud and chicken poop flood water stains could set in. The house was freezing. It was late and the space heater hadn’t been on. The wall unit was audibly stressed. I put the space heater on and turned up the temp on the wall unit now that it had help. I unloaded my work bag and began washing the floor again. The dogs went in the crates where they could dry. I pointed the heater towards them. It was a night of utter and complete chaos. Outside the wind continued to pick up. It poured all through the night. The lightening and thunder got more intense, and Cashew began to cry in response to the lightening. I know she’s traumatized by her past incident with lightening but there’s only so much a human can take. She cried all night. She didn’t quit until 4:30 am. I was so miserably tired. All i wanted to do was sleep, and she made it quite impossible. -_-
I’m quite proud of myself in that through all of this there was never a moment where i had the thought, “gosh i wish someone would just come save me and do all of this for me”. I have lived alone a long time. I function best when im alone and am most at peace in solitude. I slept from 5 am to 9:47. I completely ignored the alarm to go let the chickens out at 7. It was in the thirties and sleeting at the time so they didn’t appear to mind being stuck in the coop for once. I had a whole list of things i was supposed to do on the last day of 2020, my day off. Only half of them got done. I cooked, i did laundry, i opened the mail, and i wrote a blog post. That was about it. It had been such an exhausting night and then all through the following day it sleeted, rained, or snowed constantly. It never rose out of the thirties. It remained windy, wet, and cold. I tore the to do list in half and put the half i didnt tackle on the fridge for another day. Instead of running errands i stayed in and made bread.
we stayed inside with the heater and made bread while it snowed and sleeted outside. The dogs spent the whole day indoors with me, going out only briefly to potty. It was a peaceful way to end 2020. I was glad i had the day off and didn’t have to drive in the mess. I needed the day off after the night before. I knew 2021 wouldn’t poof all the world’s troubles away. The pandemic and political unrest we were experiencing would undoubtedly follow us into the new year. We were still going to be reading the same book but at least we’d be moving on to the next chapter.