With no job to go to and plenty of milk and bread on hand, I was able to sit out the great snowstorm of the new year last weekend.
But a couple of days ago I had to go over to the farm near Wellsville, Mo., where my wife is caring for her aging parents, and it was a reminder of snowmageddons past.
As I turned off Interstate 70 in central Missouri, the paved roads were still clear but there was more snow alongside the shoulders. In Montgomery City, Mo., there were huge piles of snow everywhere. Same in Wellsville when I got there. Tractors with loaders were busy scooping snow off parking spaces and cars and trucks were parked around with thick snow bonnets atop them.
And this was several days after the big snowfall. Needless to say, my hometown area got a lot more snow than in the metro-east. Nearby Columbia, Missouri, got 14.5 inches, compared with 8 inches in Belleville. Even after a couple of days of melting temperatures in the 30s, there still was a lot of snow.
When my wife was growing up, snowfalls like these always called for emergency measures. The snow would drift across country gravel roads, blocking them. The electricity would go out. Everyone had to have a source of heat that didn’t depend on outside power. People would huddle in the room with the fireplace to keep warm. Sometimes this would go on for several days.
There was no school, of course, but after three days in the same room with the whole family, school would have been a welcome escape — if only you could have gotten there.
Now things aren’t quite that bad. The electrical service is better and seldom goes out. Phone service is improved. But the gravel roads aren’t any better.
Last week my son spent hours scraping snow off the roads with his tractor and blade. Getting the cattle fed became an all-day chore. Not many people went anywhere.
Wednesday night it rained, adding to the muddy mess the country roads had already become. Everyone watched the weather on television where they were predicting more snow for the rest of the weekend and hoped the forecasters were wrong.
It was foggy and gray. People wondered if it would ever be warm and sunny again. I fled back to the metro-east where there is more concrete and the snow at least can be scraped off.
I understand better why so many retiree snowbirds flee south to avoid this weather.