Nature Experience #4 – Snowed In – 2011

If you were living in northern Oklahoma during February 2011, you remember “The Blizzard. ” Just over three years before, we had the Ice Storm of 2007, when thousands of residents lost power for days and days. Power was lost during the 2011 Blizzard, too, but the biggest thing about the blizzard was that many of us couldn’t even get out of our driveways after 14 inches of snow overnight on Jan. 31/Feb. 1.
There was no denying that the snow was beautiful. On my little acre of southwest Tulsa woods, the trees twinkled as if we’d lighted them for Christmas. The sun glistened off the smooth unbroken snow, and birds flitted like fairies from tree to tree, obviously as amazed as we were by the overnight transformation.

We are Weather Channel fans. And because of that we were prepared. We had stocked up with soups and canned goods, milk, and water. We had tarped the stacks of firewood that we had pulled close to the doors of the house. I had even been to the library and brought home a few books I’d been meaning to read. Our house was snug and comfortable.

Others, who lost power when the crush of heavy wet snow came down, were not so lucky. The Ice Storm of 2007 should have taken care of those limbs that pull down power lines. Trimming and carting limbs away extended for months into 2008 as northeast Oklahoma thawed. But still, all that work wasn’t enough to prevent electric lines from collapsing with the weight of snow and the build up of the inevitable ice.

Getting to work was out of the question. Our long hilly driveway could not be navigated, even with a four-wheel drive vehicle. And even if we made it to the bottom of the drive, there were likewise hilly streets in our unplowed neighborhood. We settled in.

It was a snowfall unlike any in my memory. We were blanketed in the white stuff. Out in it, bundled in layers with mittens, hats and boots, the world had that amazing quietness that new, soft snow creates, when sound is muffled and absorbed.

We went outside with the dogs, watching them try to leap and bound through the powder. They buried their noses, huffed and jumped, tingling with the cold, wet sensation. Red and gray squirrels chattered at us from the trees, and the chickadees came out, fllitting and calling “dee-dee-dee” from the wood pile and the low tree limbs around the deck.

Later, we shoveled a path from the house out to the chimenea, dug down to the sack of pinon wood, and brushed 14 inches of snow off chairs. We sat in the brilliance, breathing in the cold, sniffing the pinon smoke and revelling in winter’s beauty. Quiet. Still.

Inside, we sat by the wide window and stared, or read, or stared, or read. We listened to music, we put on a pot of soup. We snacked. We listened to music. We read, or stared, or read, or stared. The tension left our necks and shoulders. We napped, ate soup. Stared out at the white. Read books.

Eventually, we thought about digging out the driveway. In town, the world was coming to life again. On the television, we learned that the highways were open, and that if we could get to a main thoroughfare, we could probably get to work. We started shoveling the driveway. The snow plow came down our street. We kept on shoveling, and shoveling and shoveling until there was a track down to the street. We rested, standing, propped against the shovel, staring at mounds of snow.

Sound returned, sharp sounds of neighbors with chain saws, or ATVs, or (the unlucky ones) generators. Then we came back inside the house to the window. Read, stared, and thought about going back to work.

Days had passed, but now the ‘winter pause’ was over. It was time to return to life. To rushing, to multi-tasking.

It was a week and more before the Blizzard of 2011 was history, snow removed or melted, power restored.

But I have memories — and lots of pictures.

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