Ice Storm!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A mishap occurs as a woman goes sledding.

Submitted: February 29, 2008

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Submitted: February 29, 2008

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When my first daughter, Ariana, was only about three, my husband Tom and I had the privilege of raising her in a large old house in Carmack, Mississippi. Although we were renting the house and surrounding land, we still felt honored to be there. The grounds were expansive. We had over an acre of lawn on the right side of the house; a long, winding driveway lined with tall pine trees; a huge gardening area, and a beautiful expanse of forest both in front and in back of the house. It was a beautiful property.
Severe cold is not unusual in Mississippi during the winter. Neither is rain. Back then, however, the weatherman began to warn of an impending ice storm. Tom began to grow tense as the predicted storm approached. He had lived in Mississippi when he had married his first wife. I had had no experience with ice storms and was more curious than nervous. I had seen hail fall out of the sky on occasion, and I’d even seen sleet from time to time, but this “ice storm” was entirely different. A hailstorm only lasts for a few minutes, but this ice storm lasted most of the night. 
I watched out the front window in utter amazement as Mother Nature unleashed her fury on the world outside. Small drops of ice that might have been mistaken for hail dropped from the sky like tiny diamonds, covering the lawn, the trees, our pickup truck… the weight on the power lines became unbearable and they began to sag under the strain. We lost all our electricity. Since the house was dark now, we all went to bed.
The power was still off when we awoke the next morning, and the magnitude of the ice storm suddenly dawned on me. Our stove was electric. We couldn’t use it to cook.
Fortunately, there are no more resourceful people than those who are poor. We lit a fire in the woodburning stove and pulled up the top cover, revealing a grill underneath that we could use for cooking. Using a few disposable aluminum pans, we were able to prepare hot dogs, chicken fillets, scrambled eggs, and even Vienna sausages. We didn’t go hungry.
The water pipes had frozen, and that weighed heavily on my mind, too. There was no way to wash dishes…or WAS there?
I realized that the three-foot deep pool in the backyard had been full during the ice storm. Running into the yard to check, I discovered that the pool water was entombed in a layer of ice. If we could break through that layer, we’d have a reservoir of water to use until the pipes thawed.
Bundling up against the frigid weather, my husband and I attacked the icy layer with a heavy shovel. The ice didn’t budge, but we kept trying. We knew that we were slowly weakening the crystalline fortress.
After ten minutes of pounding, we were tempted to give up when we suddenly heard a faint “cracking” sound. Encouraged, we pounded even harder on the ice with the shovel, unrelenting in our search for water. Eventually, a tiny crack appeared and water seeped up to the surface of the ice. We were exhausted, but we kept pounding, until finally we had a hole large enough to put a small bucket into. We had the water we needed to wash our dishes. In fact, we had enough water to last until the pipes started working again! What a relief!
I had to wear rubber gloves to tolerate the icy water when I washed the dishes, but we had water. That was more than most of our neighbors had. 
The sun shone brightly the next day, mocking us as we shivered in its bright, icy stare. Icicles still hung from the roof of the porch, from the power lines, and even from the tree branches. Ariana and I walked around outside, plucking off the ones that I could reach and eating them like frozen treats. 
There was a hill at the back of the property that led to the back driveway. The angle was perfect for sledding, and that day, it was covered by a shimmering layer of slippery ice. An idea began to grow in my head. At first I thought it was crazy, but I soon realized that I usually LIKED crazy ideas. If there was going to be ice everywhere, I was going to take advantage of it!
I went into the house and found half of a plastic suitcase. It would be large enough for Ariana to sit in. I also found a large, round, metal wash basin for my large, round hind end. Stifling a laugh, Tom watched us from the kitchen window as Ariana and I carefully climbed to the top of the hill. I sat Ariana inside the suitcase and gave a gentle push, watching as she whizzed down the gentle slope in her little makeshift sled. She squealed with delight all the way to the bottom. The hill was PERFECT for sledding, and I took great joy in watching her use the hill over and over again.
Suddenly, she turned to me and said, “Now, YOU try, Mommy!”
There are times when an intelligent woman will follow her better judgement. This was NOT one of those times.
I positioned myself at the top of the icy hill and planted my rear in the round, metal washtub. Tom put down his coffee cup and shot me a doubtful glance as he watched me from the kitchen window. He started to shake his head slowly back and forth. I ignored him.
“Push, Ari,” I told her.
Ariana gently shoved me forward, and the washbasin began its descent. The trip down the hill was perfect as long as I faced forward, but suddenly I felt myself being whipped around backwards and I slid down the hill FACING ARIANA! When I reached the bottom, the washbasin tipped over and I ended up on my back in the frozen grass, with my legs sticking straight up in the air.
I tried to hold onto a thin shred of dignity as I heard the uproarious peels of laughter coming from both Ariana and Tom. 
I attempted to stand up, but found my hind end firmly implanted in the washbasin. Tom was laughing too hard to come help me, but Ariana bravely hopped into her little plastic suitcase and slid down the hill to her silly mommy’s rescue. She held out her hand to me and I pulled, feeling a distinct sensation of suction being broken as my rear finally popped loose from the washbasin.
I continued to sled with Ariana down that hill for the next several days, since the ice was still intact. The hill, I decided, hadn’t been the problem. The trouble was that I had chosen the big washbasin. I finally discovered through experimentation that a rubber innertube made a much better sled than a washbasin. 
The hill stayed slicker than a politician at election time, and BOTH took advantage of it, much to the chagrin of my husband, who teased me about being too old to play such silly games.
One thing I’ve lived by, though, has proved to be a pearl of wisdom more than once: We don’t stop playing because we grow OLD; we grow old because we stop PLAYING. I guess I’ll NEVER grow up!
 


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