Storm Fronts
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The Spectator
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 by Frank Shortt
2020 Spectator Ron - The Spectator All Rights Reserved

The slow drip, drip of the eaves allows us to remember back to Sunday, March15, 2020 when the huge drops of snow, almost three inches long began to stick on  the ground and trees on our property. The following day was when the electricity decided to go off!

My wife and I are senior citizens in our late seventies. Due to the Covid19 reality, we were encouraged by our family and friends to go to our property in Eldorado County, called Grizzly Flat, to await further news about the virus. We arrived on Friday, prior to the storm, with an ample amount of groceries to keep us for a couple of weeks. We knew that we had plenty of wood just in case the power went off and we would only have the Lopi wood stove for heat. Before we left San Jose, we already knew that a huge Sierra storm was being predicted. Huge amounts of snow were slated for the higher elevations. We are at 4,000 feet, so we did not imagine the more than three feet of snow that eventually landed in our driveway. Even if I had been able to run our snow blower it would not have been effective in such depths of snow pouring out in such a short time. Essentially, we were prisoners in our own home.

We had pre-thought the storm and decided to bring in enough wood for a couple of days. When the snow reached over two feet, we knew that we had not brought in enough wood. I had also gone to the local grocer, about thirty minutes away, and gotten a 10 lb. bag of ice, as well as some other things we thought we might need. Our family had given us a large ice chest called a YETI for Christmas, and it was already at our property. A small amount of ice will actually keep things frozen, or really cold, for several days. This was a Godsend! I was eventually able to shovel out a path to the woodshed and was able to replenish our wood supply daily. We just simply closed off all the remaining rooms and allowed them to stay cold as we were only using the living quarters which includes a kitchen and half-a-bath.

In a couple of days, as the snow built up, we began fully to understand what people refer to as ‘living off the grid’. Our water depends upon electricity to be brought to our home. Thank God, we were just below the huge water tank so we were blessed with gravity flow that lasted through the storm. Nonetheless, we began to save water in buckets to be able to flush our toilets, and if need be, to take sponge baths. We only had to do the sponge baths a couple of times. It reminded me of being raised in the mountains of Virginia where we were without indoor plumbing and running water until I left home at eighteen and joined the Air Force. To preserve our drinking water, we did use buckets of saved water to flush our toilets.

To keep our food cold in the refrigerator, we filled the meat and vegetable trays with packed snow, as well as some larger pots, which sufficed in doing the job. The YETI did a wonderful job of preserving our meats. Some that began to thaw out later, we gave to our neighbor, who is a barbecue enthusiast, and he was more than glad to get it.

Since we had no power, our landline phones did not work! We depended upon our I-Phones, until, you guessed it! The telephone tower failed due to heavy snow! This left us without any means of communication. Actually, it was refreshing to not be able to hear the news for several days as we had no television. Our only radio was one in which the clock worked but did not work with battery power. We had no need of being informed about the Coronavirus, as we could not get out and no one could get in to our driveway anyway, unless of course they had a vehicle with huge wheels. Neighbors and friends were very kind to us in offering to go to the store if we needed anything. Thank God, we did not. They could not have gotten to our house had they gone to the store for us.

Thursday, March 19, we heard a great sound at our gate at the bottom of the driveway. It was in the form of tractor, and driver, we had called prior to losing our phones. He began plowing our driveway making huge drifts of snow too the sides. It is unfathomable how much snow piles up when three feet of snow is being plowed. Our front yard looks like Thule Greenland. Our hearts were glad when the driveway was cleared enough to be able to drive out to the main Grizzly Flat Road.

The same day, in the afternoon, electricity was restored to our house. This was also a reason to rejoice! No more placing snow in the refrigerator! No more having to take sponge baths! No more having to stockpile wood! The YETI can go back to storage in the garage! Now we are able to call whomever we wish! We can go to the grocery store if we have a need. It is amazing how many things we Americans take for granted. Who would have ever thought that during the greatest pandemic we have had since 1918, we would have the greatest snowstorm that any person in Grizzly Flat has seen in many years.

All things are for a purpose. This time of isolation has given us reason to reflect upon our many blessings. We have spent time together in the evenings reading aloud, one little book in particular entitled, “The Greatest Thing in the World” by Henry Drummond. Who knows, we might even begin to spend more time together doing things together, and we will not soon forget all the conveniences we did without during the Covid19 crises and the greatest snowstorm we have ever experienced! We are fortunate that, even in our old age, we can still function if necessity presents itself!