Mills: Winter Weather Creates Hunker Down Mode

I’m hunkered down on a frigid winter’s night. All of my girls and my fireman are here with me. I feel like a kid ditching school. Shouldn’t I be working, teaching, or doing one of the many things on my forever to-do list? Maybe, but instead I am simply going to enjoy time with my family. It’s definitely not Alaska weather, or even the Northeast, for that matter. But, for the Deep South, this is close enough. The weather is threatening freezing rain, snow, and ice on the roads for tonight and all of tomorrow, so we’re pretty much stuck.  Everything around here is closed tomorrow:  schools, businesses, daycares, restaurants. There are few places to go and little to nothing to do. But, of course, emergency responders will be on the job. 

Maybe this is why I feel so lucky; why I feel like I’ve stolen a bit of peace tonight. Usually, I would be weathering this storm alone. It all depends on the shift schedules, but it seems that for the last few years, every time we’ve had bad weather my fireman has been on the job.  Probably most fire wives feel this way…and probably, they’re right.  Every crisis seems like more of a crisis when we don’t have our best friend, our rock, our partner to walk through it with us.  It’s not that we expect him to do it all or pave our way.  No.  If we’ve been fire wives for any length of time, we probably could ice-skate through a crisis blindfolded, backwards, with a baby on our hip and still barley notice a jiggle in the routine.  Even still, it’s nice to not have to face this one alone. 

Of course, I had to face all the preparations alone.  Let’s see if any other fire wives can relate.  It went something like this:

7:00 am – wake up to an email from my FF (on shift) about a kerosene heater I need to go buy in case the power goes out.  (It just so happens that two weeks ago, when it was mid-60’s outside and they were on sale, I suggested we get one as a back-up heat source and my fireman shot down that idea due to the number of “houses those things burn down every winter!”  He’s since changed his mind and decided it’s not such a bad idea…as a back-up, of course.)

7:30 am – phone call with FF so we can discuss storm preparations for ourselves, our pets, and our two house locations.  We have a cabin being built on our future homestead and also our house still in town where we’re currently living.  We really don’t want the pipes freezing and bursting at either location.

8:00 am – another phone call with more ideas and information that the local hardware store set aside their last kerosene heater for me to come pick up.

9:00 am – leave to run a ton of errands including:

  • Deposit and cash checks at the bank
  • Pick up the heater, kerosene, 1/2-inch staples, and some plastic sheeting at the local hardware store
  • Buy laying pellets and cracked corn at the feed & seed
  • Top off the truck with diesel
  • Go grocery shopping and grab some extras for the cabin, in case he weathers the storm there
  • Wait in an eternal line at the post office to mail a box off that I’ve had to return since Christmas

1:45 pm – return home

The rest of the day was spent: 

  • Finding a staple gun to staple plastic sheeting over the chicken & duck pen to protect them from the freezing rain. 
  • Attempting to change out the staples while on the phone with him again because I can’t get it to work. 
  • Him telling me I’ll have to bring it to the station for him to do it. 
  • Me, refusing to give in, and ripping out one of the staples I’ve already used, only to figure out that he had me purchase the wrong size staples for his gun! 
  • Finding where he hid an old box of staples since another phone call tells me he has no idea where they are. 
  • A sobbing child interrupts to inform me her cat’s paw is swollen and she thinks it’s a snake bite. 
  • I doubt this, but I call the vet anyways to schedule an appointment for the following day. 
  • I console the sorrow-filled child and explain that the kitty can not go to the vet now, won’t die overnight, will be fine waiting until tomorrow and might even be all better by the morning. 
  • All of this, while shoving the newly-found smaller staples into the dag-gum stapler. Thank goodness it’s a Stanley Sharp Shooter because it’s made for beating and that’s exactly what I do! 
  • In another five minutes I have the poultry pen completely covered and ready for the storm and most of my aggression has subsided.

By nightfall, we are ready.  The kitty’s paw is back to normal, so I can cancel the appointment in the morning and save the veterinary bill for another time.  Meals are prepared.  The ducks and chickens are ready.  Our cats and dog all have back-up heat sources and all of our own needs can be met as well.  I feel ready.  My firefighter felt fairly helpless most of the day, but thankfully took on the task of assembling the kerosene heater and getting it ready to use, if need be.  We’ve covered all our bases.

Now, as I sit here with my family, I can relax and know that I don’t have to go anywhere.  No one needs me to do anything.  And if there’s something that requires my attention outside of the home, it can wait until the weekend, when it’s going to be sunny and 68 degrees again.

For now, I’ll just enjoy looking at the icicles outside and sitting in our cozy house with my family.

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