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You may have read we’ve had some weather in Louisville KY. To be precise, we’ve had about five inches of snow, a bunch of freezing rain, and over 200,000 Louisvillians have no power. There’s only one unblocked street from our house to civilization (and more trees coming down by the hour), school has been called off for the whole week, and things are likely to stay messy for 7-10 days.

Amid this mess, though, lies significant beauty. I feel awful saying it, especially when I consider the very real cost in dollars and misery that this storm will ultimately be responsible for, but I’ve bundled up and gone out with Simon or my camera or both three times just to spend time in this winter wonderland. I’ve got power, I’ve got access to a house with power if I lose it, and I’ve enjoyed the slowing of time and the community togetherness the storm has brought.

Amid this mess there also lies humor. Yesterday morning my brothers and I both talked to my dad, who has no power but does have a generator, on his land line and on his cell phone. Later in the day, we all failed to reach him on both lines. By seven, we were sufficiently concerned that I deputized myself to go to his house and make sure all was well. None of us could drive to his house, as the streets were blocked, but I live within a half mile and could make the trip on foot.

I bundled up in a knee length down coat, a wool scarf wrapped around my head, gloves, and knee-high boots. I trudged through lawns to avoid the ice-slick that is the foot of my street, and I had to climb through a fallen tree to get down Spring Drive. Once I turned onto Lauderdale, my Dad’s street, all was dark and quiet. As I approached his house, I could hear the generator roaring, but I saw no other signs of life.

Dad and Ruth’s cars were parked outside, but no lights were on, and no one responded to my very loud knocking on the front door. At this point, I got more worried, climbed over some downed trees in their side yard, snuck under a downed power line bisecting their roof and fence, and made my way to the kitchen door in back, where I banged loudly again and still got no response. I could, however, make out a lit candle on the kitchen counter and a pot on a lit burner through a sliver of space between window curtain and window frame.

At this point, I panicked. It didn’t take a fevered imagination to picture Dad and Ruth asphyxiated in the house, which was itself on the precipice of going up in flames. I called my brothers to see if my panic was warranted, and they all agreed it was time for a break-in. I tried entering the garage door code, but the opener was not powered by the generator and I had nothing to break a window with. So after more banging and calling, I decided to walk back home, re-arm, and re-approach.

Half an hour later, after more failed calls, I returned with warmer mittens, a better hat to put on over my scarf, long-lost keys to Dad’s house, his alarm code, and a heavy flashlight. I repeated all my earlier banging, gulped hard, shined a light on the lock, and walked into a cold and eerily empty house relieved I didn’t have to smash a window to get in, but worried about what I’d find. To be honest, I expected to find my dad and step-mom lying on the floor somewhere and was ready to dial 9-1-1 on my cell.

After a bit of yelling, I made my way upstairs to find Ruth coming down and my dad on the phone with my brother. Turns out they can only heat one room with their generator, their land line is dead, Dad’s cell was charging, they couldn’t hear me over the generator, and they had no lights. I had narrowly missed finding Ruth taking dinner off the stove downstairs when I left the first time.

We all got a good chuckle out of the misunderstanding, not least of whom my Dad, who was touched that we all cared so much, but for a minute or two was equally curious as to how a short, old, Russian woman managed to get inside his house. Which just goes to show you that as much as the appearance of their house misled me, my own appearance went a long way to confuse them. And in hindsight, I can well understand how I must have looked in my mismatched, babushka-wearing glory.

I can’t do anything about being short, but I may have to reconsider that coat and scarf combination!

One Response to “The Ice Storm (Louisville 2009 version, not Ang Lee version)”

  1. Amanda says:

    “short, old, Russian woman”
    Hey! I resemble that remark! Especially now, no snow but it’s COLD! We missed the ice, but southern MO has no power (we do, thankfully). My Dad and stepmom visited a couple of days ago on their way back from AZ and drove through OK in the worst of it–Dad’s truck had 4-5″ of ice on the front end (more on the side mirrors). I’ve never seen anything like it, and that’s saying something–we get golf ball sized hail here. Keep warm!

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