March 4- part 2

Posted on: March 5, 2013

I was gone only 45 minutes.  Thankfully the plow had been by when it had, there was now just as much snow on the road as before in that very short time.  It was snowing hard and it was a struggle getting into the driveway thru what felt like a foot of snow.  Still grasping the steering wheel, I put my head on my hands after I had backed into the barn, and gave a sigh of relief.  John tapped on the side window, startling me.

“Are you ok?” he looked worried.

“Just glad to be home.  The roads are getting worse.” I confessed, getting out of the car.

“You were late, and I was waiting to help with the boxes,” he gave me that smile that just melts my insides.  He had the sled ready, but it still took two trips to get it all in the house.

I did the next step on the bread, setting the dough into the loaf pans to rise again.  The gennie was still running and John was almost done filling the water jugs; it’s a slow process.  With so much to carry back in, we both went to the small shed to retrieve the cooking kettles, and get the electric grain grinder; the grinder could make five times the flour in half the time as a hand crank, which I had purchased many years ago, but rarely used.  Right now, time was NOT on our side.  While in the shed, I spotted the shower bucket I made and grabbed that too.  John carried the box with the heavy grinder, and I carried the rest, five empty buckets.  It wouldn’t be long and that shed would be inaccessible without a lot of digging, so I went back out while John continued with the water, and got an extra storage bucket of wheat berries and one of Basmati rice.  At least we will eat good.


John still needed to bring in the wood, so I finished filling the four kettles we had just brought in, with water and setting two of them on the stove to heat.  Finally, I filled a bucket and was on my way out to the coop, when John called out from the wood shed, “The chickens are taken care of!”  I nodded and went back into the house.  The full bucket could go to one of the bathrooms.  As soon as John came in with that load of wood, I suggested we go over the notes.

“Let’s see what’s been done and what still needs doing, so we’re not duplicating our efforts,” I said, as we both sipped fresh cups of coffee.  Just then, Tufts decided to make an appearance, rubbing against first my legs then John’s.  After a scratch on the head, he went to see what offerings we had left for him in his feeding spot.   I made a quick note.  John raised an eyebrow in question.  “I need to clean the litter box,” I grinned.

“Ok,” he started, “All the water is done, so we start laundry now, right?  I filled the gennie first, then all three gas cans; took water to the chickens and filled their auto-feeder full; on my way back I grabbed our snowshoes off the wall.  The chicks left us six eggs by the way,” he grinned.  Maybe I’ll include some eggs with Bobby and Jane’s food box.  We owe them a lot.

“Before the storm gets worse, and it’s hard to see, I need to get the box next door,” I added, as I slipped the bread into the oven and set the timer.  He wasn’t happy about the 30 minutes or so it would take to walk there, deliver and walk back; neither was I, but it had to be done before dark.  I promised to take a compass with me.  “When I get back, we need to do something else,” I paused.


“Life lines: we need to run ropes between here and the boys; and here to the barn.  I don’t think we need it for the wood shed, since it’s less than six feet from the edge of the house to the shed,” thinking of Darlene’s ten feet comment.

“Do we have that much rope?” John questioned.

“I stopped at Fram’s while in town, and bought 500 feet of clothesline; that should get from here to the boys.  Maybe. I’ve never thought to measure it.” I shrugged.  “Plus there’s another 300 feet in the barn that I stored last summer.  We start with a line to the boys.”  I had thought there may come a time I would need to do a line to the barn, but it never occurred to me to run one across the road.  If this had happened before, we all would have just hunkered down and waited out the storm.


It was hard shoeing thru all that fresh snow, but I made it to Bobby’s in less than 15 minutes, and started pounding on their door.  He appeared with rifle in hand, which he quickly set aside when he saw it was me.

“What are you doing out in this mess?” He demanded.

“Don’t worry, it’s not my first choice of activity,” I laughed.  “I picked up all of our rations early.” I handed him the big box, and I could see the relief on his face.  “I added a half dozen eggs for you; we might be socked in for days.”

“I know, I’ve been listening on the Ham.  Munising is already shut down with two feet in the last 12 hours.  This will be one for the records ….. If anyone is keeping records,” he commented.  “You better get back… and Deborah… thanks!”

At the top of his drive, I turned north.  It’s hard to get lost when out snow shoeing: you just follow your trail back the way you came; the exception was in a blizzard.  My tracks, made 20 minutes earlier were starting to fill in; I hurried, which was much easier to do towing an empty sled.  The closer I got to home, the less I could see my trail, but I could still see an outline of the big, dark brown barn.

John was as relieved as I was, when I made it to the back door.  I knocked the snow out of the sled, and handed it to him; then I stepped out of my snowshoes, sinking almost knee-deep in the fresh powder.


I warmed up by the stove, sipping on some soup John had thoughtfully heated.  I watched as he prepped the food bank boxes, slipping them into large garbage bags to protect them from the constant falling snow.  The bread was out of the oven, but not really cool enough to bag, so I wrapped them in towels instead, knowing there were plastic bags somewhere in that house; Norene was a baker too.  I removed all the plastic from the new packs of clothesline, and loosened the starter ends.  We would have to join them as we went.  John waited until we were ready to leave before adding the one gas can to the sled that made it very heavy to drag thru fresh, deep snow.


Outside, the snow was getting even thicker.  I took a compass heading, but I knew the house was due east of here.  John tied the rope to the bird feeder post right next to the door, and then wound it high around the closest tree; a tree that was barely visible, only 20 feet away.  We set out on our snowshoes in the direction I felt would lead us to my sons, unwinding the rope as we went, John pulling the heavy sled; us never more than a foot or two from each other.  Before we got to the large pines that marked the property edge, we stopped to attach the next rope.  I’d used a special joining square knot many times before, a nautical knot that got stronger the more tension it was under, deciding that would be the best one to use now.  We were momentarily disoriented, the snow shrouding us in total whiteness; there was that instant internal panic of not knowing which way to go. I pulled out the compass to get us going again.  Just a few more feet put us at the pine tree Tom had planted ten years ago; ‘see the tree, how big it’s grown’ danced across my memory and made me giggle; fortunately John couldn’t hear me.  From there we followed the grape arbor, trailing the rope behind us; another stop to attach yet another segment of clothesline.  I angled our approach to put us closer to the porch, and 30 feet later the gray house loomed in front of us.  From there the going was more confident, and John attached the line to the banister on the steps.  We breathed a sigh of relief, removed our snowshoes, and dragged the sled up the steps to the covered porch.

8 thoughts on “March 4- part 2

  1. Yep – good point.

    Still – there’s always possibilities of gaps in someone’s preps. Glad she was able to get more for the new situation.

  2. A gap? yes and no. Deborah always had enough to run lines to her barn, but how could she have anticipated her brother being dead and needing enough to go across the road to reach her sons?

  3. Hah! I was right! I would’ve figured she already had rope stored, but maybe it was one of those gaps in the preps.

  4. Yeah, that’s the kind I thought you meant, Deborah. I use the other kind to hang clothes on, so know what they can handle. Def. get the fiber ones!!

  5. But Deborah bought the fiber/cloth type clotheslines. They’re much stronger and don’t get brittle in freezing temps. Besides, these are GUIDE lines, not meant for pulling on, though they could be, and I’ve done it without them breaking.

  6. Karin, I am sorry but I do not think a close line is strong enough or big enough to use as a guide rope during a blizzard. Please note: most close line in the lengths Deborah mentioned is a a nylon cord covered in vinyl. The steel cables covered in vinyl would be plenty strong, but with gloves/mittens I question a person being able to hold it, without losing contact with it. For the nylon cord, I recently broke on of mom’s because it was older, and somewhat dry rotted, something to consider over several seasons., especially if a person is struggling in the snow, and may fall on it.

    And no, I am not complaining about the story, just adding my thoughts for a real life situation.


  7. Don’t lose that compass! Good thinking on the clothes (running to write this on my list!)

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