Tales From Up North

Woman reads book near fireplace

This week’s topic is one I suggested: “Have you ever been snowed in? If so, what did you do to pass the time?” Here in West Michigan we often see LOTS of snow. The past few winters have been relatively mild (although I suppose visitors from the south would disagree), so those of us who have lived through events like The Winter of ’78 are bracing ourselves for a repeat. To give you an idea of what it was like that winter, here’s a news article from our local paper.

To answer the question, yes, I’ve been snowed in.

My very first teaching job was in a rural area, and I lived alone in an apartment on the outskirts of town. This apartment was not part of a large complex where I would have had lots of neighbors to socialize with – it was one half of a duplex in a family neighborhood, and my neighbors were not particularly sociable.

Between January 25 and 27 in 1978, a massive storm swept over Michigan, leaving over 18 inches of snow. But even before that storm, we’d had several smaller ones. In fact, my district had only ten days of school that entire month! At the time, the town had very little in the way of entertainment – the one restaurant served only breakfast and lunch, and the grocery store closed at 6 pm each day. Fortunately, I had enough food in my cupboards to sustain me for the two days it took for the plows to come through so that I could slowly make my way to my parents’ home. What would have been a forty minute drive took more than an hour and a half.

So what did I do for those two days? Well, I had my instruments with me, so I practiced a bit. I hadn’t yet started sewing, but I had some yarn and did some knitting. I wasn’t much of a cook (okay, I’m still not much of a cook!), but I did some experimenting to make myself suitable meals with what I had. I knew how to make rice, and I could open cans, and I had Betty Crocker’s cookbook to instruct me. I honestly don’t remember what I ate, but I do recall being very relieved when I finally arrived at my parents’ home, because then I ate real meals.

Of course, I did some reading, too! Ebooks and the internet weren’t around yet, but I did have some books and magazines in my apartment. I received journals from a few music organizations, and I usually had one or two women’s magazines lying around – the kind that make me wonder why I couldn’t look like the women in the pictures, even when I dressed in the same clothes. I hadn’t yet started writing fiction, but if I had, I probably would have relished the quiet.

But then again, maybe not. This all happened before I had a husband and children. I was twenty-two, living alone for the first time in my life. Back then, I’d stay at school until well past dinner time because I hated coming home to my quiet apartment. Now, I long for time alone, with no television to distract me, no phone calls from children or parents, and no social media to post promo stuff. If I were to be snowed in now, I imagine I’d have plenty to keep myself busy, as long as I have electricity. If not, I’ve got a shelf full of books waiting to be read.

How would you occupy yourself if you were snowed in?

About Patricia Kiyono

During her first career, Patricia Kiyono taught elementary music, computer classes, elementary classrooms, and junior high social studies. She now teaches music education at the university level. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband, not far from her five children, nine grandchildren (so far), and great-granddaughters. Current interests, aside from writing, include sewing, crocheting, scrapbooking, and music. A love of travel and an interest in faraway people inspires her to create stories about different cultures. Check out her sweet historical contemporary romances at her Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Patricia-Kiyono/e/B0067PSM5C/
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7 Responses to Tales From Up North

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    I would imagine living alone could’ve made this far more worrisome than if you were among family or friends. Sounds like you faced all the obstacles with remarkable calm and resourcefulness.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I suppose having a roommate or two might have made the experience nicer. I didn’t really mind being alone, but if my isolation had lasted more than a few days I might have started digging through the snow looking for people to talk to!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t imagine being snowed in alone. That would make me anxious. I enjoy the quiet but I like the to know that someone else is around.
    This blizzard happened before I was born but I do recall my parents talking about it often. The roads were closed here for a few days as well. My dad had the only vehicle in the family that could get out to the farm and to my great grandma’s so he was out and about helping stranded family members.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      It was definitely a unique experience. I don’t get mind being alone, although if the storm had lasted more than a few days I might have started reaching out to some of my neighbors. Fortunately, the houses in that neighborhood weren’t too far apart. It would be worse if I was farther from town and unable to walk anywhere.


  3. Being alone sounds nice now, but scary then. I have never lived alone, not that I would mind it, it just never happened.
    My second and third grade years it snowed a great deal.We had many ‘snow days’ , and got sent home early several times, walking ankle-deep in snow, but I don’t think that we got snowed in …then. I’ll have to decide which snowed-in stories I have yet to tell here.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Patricia Kiyono says:

      I lived alone for three years, and I think it was a good experience for me. When I got married, my husband and I worked such different hours that I often felt like I still lived alone! I learned to be self-sufficient, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Elaine Cantrell says:

    I don’t think I’d enjoy being snowed in by myself even though it could be thought of as an adventure.


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