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?