Well, one day I can tell my future grandchildren, “We survived the Polar Vortex of 2014!” My two granddaughters will chime in and tell their future cousins, “It snowed and snowed and then it was so cold, we missed five days of school!”
After being stuck in the house for days – which seems like years – it is comical how I continue to look at the rising thermometer with glee. For the first time in a few days, the mercury is rising, and we are at temps above zero. Seventeen degrees never felt so good.
Being housebound, I’d like to say I accomplished a lot, but that would be the farthest thing from the truth. I could have cleaned closets and cupboards, but I didn’t. Instead, I did a lot of reflecting and observing. Nothing like a weather crisis to bring on some serious people-watching.
So, from my snow-covered, frozen little corner of the world, I have penned what I learned about myself and humanity during a snowstorm and polar vortex:
- Humans can be greedy. Okay, this news junkie decided to watch The Weather Channel for the first several hours of the snowstorm, as I was curious to see the extent of Mother Nature’s fury. I was in awe of how massive the storm system was. The stories and images of people clearing out grocery shelves was a sad statement. How many gallons of milk, loaves of bread and cartons of eggs do we need to survive a few days?
- News anchors sound silly. My intelligence was insulted repeatedly with information on how to survive the cold and snow. It is winter. It snows. It gets cold – sometimes brutally cold. Generations before us survived without the idiot lessons – just saying…
- Concern over animals. I read and heard more coverage on how to protect pets and wildlife from the elements than I did about checking on the homeless and elderly. That kind of bothered me. A lot.
- Cold is painful. Ouch – walking out the door was like being slapped in the face!
- Humans are compassionate: I heard and saw how good we can be to each other. Wonderful stories emerged of individuals rising to the occasion and coming to the aid of their fellow man, such as helping others free their cars from snow banks, clearing their neighbors’ walkways of snow and helping to start stalled cars. It was refreshing to see and hear of folks putting others’ needs first. Random acts of kindness.
- Social media: The other evening, I had a great time on social media. I learned how cold it was in other areas of the country, saw incredible snow and ice pictures, and just had amazing conversations with friends, family and neighbors from around the world. We were all stuck inside, but able to communicate, and that was really a blessing.
- Crash-course in mathematics: Remember the number charts: …-3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3…? Interesting how all of that came back to me as I watched the thermometer drop – and rise again! Glad I can remember how to do simple math!
- Science nerd: Why not have a little fun? A few summers ago, during a heat wave, I cooked an egg on the sidewalk. With record cold temps, my daughter and I were like giddy kids, wanting to try something new. So, we boiled water, opened the door, flung the water away from the house and watched it vaporize and change its form before our very eyes. First we tried our experiment in the dark, and then during the daylight. Very cool both times. We blew bubbles (after defrosting the frozen bottle overnight) and watched how they solidified and shattered like glass in the cold. A few of the bubbles froze to the wand! Of course we were careful, as true scientists would be, and made sure we were protected from the elements and boiling water. Bazinga.
- Apologies: I realized I needed to call my mother and apologize for rolling my eyes at her back when I was a teen. Over the past few days, my own teens thought I was overprotective when I wouldn’t let them drive on ice-covered roads. If the State Police advise not driving in certain areas, and schools are closed due to black ice, what makes a teen think he or she is invincible? Oh, their hysterical laughter would have been music to my ears if I was at an open mike night at the local comedy club. But alas, I was not. I was just standing at the door, merely suggesting to have a hat and gloves in case the car breaks down or gets stuck in a snow rut. At that very moment, I knew then how my parents felt. Sorry, Mom and Dad!
- Teens vs. Toddlers: Snow days with teens are easier than with younger kids. Why? Because they sleep away most of the day! Enough said.
- Gratitude: Giving thanks to God that we never lost power, that we had plenty of firewood and a well-stocked pantry, that we have a place to call home and that we didn’t have it as bad as others did – all are blessings to not take for granted.
So, while the fierce winter winds wailed and the snowflakes and mercury steadily dropped, my observation is that during this crazy weather week, there was a lot more positive than negative. That was good.
Yes, our family and many others survived a moment in history. A moment that I pray won’t be repeated. If I never again have the chance to toss boiling water into the air, I won’t complain. If I never hear the words “polar vortex” again, I won’t be bothered a bit. I can safely cross “visit Antarctica” from my bucket list.
For sure, it will be a winter to remember. On the bright side, there are only 70 days until spring! 🙂
© Lynne Cobb – 2014
If you were caught in the Polar Vortex, what did you do to survive? Any astute observations? Let me know in the comment section!