I don’t mind cold weather as much as most, but once it hits the single digits I remember my keychain car starter died years ago and I contemplate quitting all outside commitments for all times. “Grocery store? No, we are eating this coloring book with a side of ketchup packets. It’s too damn cold.” At least it’s not 1991 again, when I lived through the Ice Storm of northern Indiana.
I lived north of Indianapolis for four years growing up. That part of the country is devoid of hills, has about three trees and the wind, when it blows, is usually about 150 mph on average. In March of ’91, three inches of ice hit the north central part of the state at 40 mph. Literally everything was encased in ice, and I mean everything. Cars, trees, mailboxes, it all had to be laboriously freed from an icy crypt. It was very strange to look outside, it was like a shiny layer on everything, much like my oily face in seventh grade. My parents took a weekend off and we fled to Ohio to visit family, but had to return for the next week. We managed to find the last kerosene heater in the neighboring county, which was huge, since 200,000 houses lost power.
The balance of the next two weeks we had no power. The little kerosene heater was placed in my parents’ room and four of us, plus our dog, sat in that cell. When we wanted to eat, it was cold food or lamely heated up on a pan sitting on the heater. Day 5 of turkey or peanut butter sandwiches and I nearly went on hunger strike. Bathing meant heating up a pot of water on the heater and washrag cleaning yourself like it was Appalachia in…well, any time really. The worst though was the abject boredom. We read the same books over and over, played board games and cards and prayed for the power to return. Sadly, I was too young for alcohol, I’ll bet I would have flown through that storm now like a boss. No lights at night other than candles, no heat outside that room – leaving the room was like entering an ice cave in Toth – and no music, other than what two radio stations we could get on a battery powered radio, which we conserved for weather updates. Going outside meant slipping and sliding and falling down. We couldn’t make it more than about ten feet before giving up and belly crawling like salamanders back to the door.
The power finally returned to our house at almost exactly two full weeks. We sprung into the air with joy and immediately went to our own rooms and locked the door, vowing never to speak to one another for a month. Delicious heat poured from the vents and sweet, sweet TV broadcast images from places where the sun still existed. I lost my virginity that night with my eight bit Nintendo – “I’ll never let you go baby! I love you!” Now when the power goes out, I get light headed and begin to shake with fear. Long story short, yes this cold weather stinks, but if the power goes out that long again, I’m wandering out the front door like the mom on the Road.
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