My literary references are getting cheesier and cheesier. Gone are the subtle jabs to David Foster Wallace. Now I’m here making not-so-clever Game of Thrones jokes. Further proof that babies liquify your brains. ANYHOW. This is just to say that winter came down and bitchslapped Western Massachusetts and that I am now in Vermont.
See, I was just here last week. It was only supposed to be for the weekend, but the gas gauge on my car started acting funny. So, I decided to stay an extra day and take it to the dealer where I bought it on Monday. Nothing major wrong with it – just a faulty sensor (which, I must say… it’s a BRAND NEW CAR. What the hell. Car’s even newer than the baby.). No big deal except that they had to order the sensor. So, I couldn’t get the car fixed until Thursday afternoon. Not entirely worth it to go back home on Tuesday and then back up Thursday morning, so we stuck around and went home with a fixed car on Friday.
[ Note: during this week, Whuff cut his fourth tooth. A tooth which can see me in hell. By the time I finally got him to sleep at night, the only thing I was mentally capable of was running through a virtual world petting pigs. Which is to say I got a little addicted to Glitch.]
A fixed car whose gas tank I ominously didn’t fill because I figured “Oh, I still have 35miles left in the tank – according to my handy dashboard thingum – and I need groceries tomorrow. I’ll just get gas then.” As it turns out, “tomorrow” was THE END OF THE WORLD. This is what happened “tomorrow,” which is now also referred to as “yesterday.”
This was yesterday afternoon mid-storm. Oh, it picked up from there. Quite a lot. This isn’t even half of the total accumulation seeing as how when I got up this morning, that bush on the left? Was flat on the ground with snow. This is what this morning looked like from my kitchen window:
The combination of 14″ of snow and trees that still had *green leaves* (that is to say, leaves that were still alive and not even dry) meant that this was absolutely devastating for trees. Please note, the tree on the far right in this picture – that is touching my back deck – that’s not my tree.
This tree – this is our neighbor’s tree. Well, used to be. It’s the top half of it and it’s come to join us.
So many branches down. So many trees just snapped right in half. It’s a bad time to be a tree in Western Massachusetts.
It’s just kind of a bad time to be in Western MA, period. We lost power last night and from what Nuno tells me, it’s still out. Losing power at this time of year means losing heat – there’s absolutely no way I could stay at home with The Whuff in a house with no heat when it’s below freezing. I feel awful that Nuno stayed behind, but he has work in the morning and had pretty much no choice.
Anyhow. Getting up here was quite the adventure. I needed gas, and wouldn’t you know that gas stations need electricity to operate! There weren’t any open within 20 miles of the house and when I got to the last one and had a mere 10 miles left in my tank – I was told that the nearest gas was another 18miles away.
Yeah, I pretty much lost it.
I called my parents, totally in tears, and explained the situation. I didn’t have enough gas to get to the next station – or indeed, to get home. Though if I did get home, what good would that do me as I still wouldn’t have heat? So, my mother drove down and bought a can of gas to get me to the next station with power. This all sounds so easy now, but negotiating the logistics…and waiting… with a baby… it was so intensely nerve wracking.
The baby, for his part, couldn’t have been better behaved. He didn’t want to just sit in his car seat, so I strapped him in the Ergo and wore my coat over him to help keep him warm. Thankfully, with him all bundled up, this worked fine as it was a sunny afternoon. We took on the role of “hall monitor” and told the cars what the friendly policemen who were there earlier had told us – no gas for 20miles. It certainly helped pass the time, and I repeated it so often I wouldn’t be surprised if “The nearest gas is in Greenfield” are Paulo’s first words.
The responses really were the most shocking part of the afternoon. Here I am, with a baby, just pacing around this parking lot. Telling people there’s no gas. My car is parked off to the side. I’m obviously not going anywhere. And over, and over again I heard “But I don’t have enough to get to Greenfield!” Yeah. Well. NEITHER DID I. Which I calmly explained. That I myself was totally stuck so I didn’t really know what to say, other than the information that I had.
Only two people asked me if I was ok. I spoke to at least 50 people and only TWO had the insight to think “Maybe this woman with a baby isn’t standing here on purpose.” And of those two, only one asked if there was anything she could get me and the baby as she still had a little gas in her tank and was just trying to fill up.
I’m quite grateful that my mom was on her way because there was absolutely no kindness of strangers that I saw. Something about the timing of the storm and no one being ready, everyone was just totally strung out and in their own little worlds. I know I could certainly be guilty of that, but it just astonished me to see it over and over and over again in such a short span of time. Almost no one stopped to think that maybe they weren’t the only ones running – literally – on empty.
Anyhow. We finally made it. A trip that should have taken an hour and a half tops took five hours. But we made it. We’ve got a full tank of gas (and boy howdy have I ever learned to fill up *before* it snows) and we’re nice and cozy in Oma’s house, which is primarily heated with wood so even if we lose power, we can stay warm.
I truly feel awful that Nuno is home alone in such a cold house, but I’m also incredibly grateful that Whuffles and I had someplace to go. My heart is going out to the mamas and babies among the 2 million without power tonight who *don’t* have a warm Oma’s house to retreat to.