As I’ve mentioned, we are studying life in Alaska as part of a class I’m teaching this semester about the Iditarod race. I really have no concept of what it would be like to live in a town that is so covered in snow the only way in or out is by snowmobile or dog-sled team. I can’t imagine not being able to go anywhere, only receiving mail once a month or trying to survive temps of minus 40 degrees.
But this week, we are getting just a glimpse of what that would be like.
Tuesday night, the blizzard dumped about 20 inches of snow in this area. The incredible winds blew the snow into large drifts that covered bushes, created awesome sledding hills and sloped up almost to the top of the 6-foot fence.
For the kids, it was like someone dumped the largest sandbox you can imagine right in our yard. (Thankfully, though, this “sandbox” will eventually melt and clean itself up!) The weather people say we haven’t had a storm like this since 1967. That means it’s the biggest one of my lifetime.
I’m so thankful for my older three kids that they got to enjoy it when they were at the perfect age to spend days building snow forts, tunnels and sledding hills. It was a day they will probably remember for the rest of their lives. And the snow will provide a playground that will help us get through the dreary month of February with a little more excitement.
Our city is typically known for its snow-plowing efficiency. So I was surprised to go out at 7 a.m. and see the street completely covered in about 18 inches of soft, smooth, untouched snow. It was another hour before the snowplow slowly made its way down our side street and uncovered a single lane right down the middle of the street. It took a half hour to plow what normally might take a few minutes.
All day long, I was enjoying the early morning proclamation on the news that “all streets” in our county were “closed.” I was feeling very Alaskan that if we wanted to go somewhere we would need to walk. Unfortunately, we don’t have a snowmobile OR a dog-sled team.
That meant we would all be forced to find contentment entertaining ourselves at our own home. We could only arrange playdates with friends in walking distance. There was no pressure to invite someone over, run an errand or pack up everyone to go “do something fun.” Who would need that anyway with so much fun dropped from the sky right on top of our yard?
By about 5 p.m. when I was missing an ingredient for dinner, my husband burst my fantasy by offering to go to the store.
“What?!” I asked. “I thought we weren’t supposed to drive anywhere!”
“It’s fine now,” he answered. “They cleared the streets.”
Personally, I spent most of the day checking Facebook and dreaming of what food to eat next. I couldn’t imagine how different my seclusion would have been without being able to check on all of my friends and their adventures and watching as they uploaded new photos.
I guess the harsh conditions flipped a switch similar to when you don’t eat enough for a few days and your body goes into “starvation mode.” But this was the opposite. Apparently, I thought it was time to hibernate because I was preoccupied with mashed potatoes and chocolate lava cake. I didn’t have access to either, and I adamantly refused my husband’s offers to go to the grocery store in favor of prolonging my dream that we were stranded at home.
On Thursday, we are supposed to experience another extreme of Alaskan life: negative 40 wind chills. I have a feeling we will have to abandon the snow for a while and pull out some board games and movies to get through it.
By the weekend, I suspect I will be done with my Alaskan adventure. I will be ready for a shopping mall, a Starbucks and a nice meal cooked at a restaurant!
How about you? Have you been trapped by the blizzard? Was was the best part for you?