Monday, October 31, 2011

Wacky Weather

Living in the northeast, we certainly see a variety of weather. The saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes," is only a slight exaggeration. Traditionally, winter is cold and snowy, spring is warmer and rainy, summer is hot and sunny, and fall is crisp and cool. Around here, however, exceptions to this rule abound, and often the weather changes so drastically from one day to the next that one never really knows how to dress without first stepping outside. I remember how it rained almost every day of the June when Lydia was born - not exactly your typical hot and sunny summer weather. Snow usually starts in December, but there was a winter when it didn't snow until mid- January, and then a couple years ago, we had some unusual snow flurries in October. But as far as I can remember, this month wins the prize for strangest and most extreme weather conditions.

It started the weekend before Abby was born. I was preparing for my upcoming C-section when my mom called and asked me to pack the kids' bathing suits. Since she lives on a lake, this would be a normal request in summer, but it was already too chilly for swimming on Labor Day. Yet that Sunday, after a hot Saturday, the temperature reached a near-record 85 degrees. The thermometer stayed in 80's on Abigail's birthday, but by the time we returned home later that week, things had cooled off - and it was raining. Usually October is my favorite month for weather in New England: blue skies, crisp cool air, sunshine, and beautiful colored leaves. This year, Indian summer turned to spring as we had two weeks of clouds, wind, and rain. Instead of crunchy leaves to step on, the ground has been soggy. I'm not sure where my favorite season went, but we seem to have skipped it altogether, because this weekend, it was winter.

On Thursday night, just as we were putting the boys and Lydia to bed, I looked out the window and exclaimed, "Is that snow?!" Sure enough, huge chunky flakes of white were falling from the October sky. We called the children to peer out into the dark at the first snowfall of the season, and it was piling up quickly - in fact, Don stepped outside and easily scooped up enough to make a few snowballs and hurl them at the giggling children behind the glass slider door. By morning, it had started to melt, but the sight left behind was certainly strange: snow on the ground with green leaves on the trees.

As if that wasn't strange enough, Saturday's forecast called for 6 to 10 inches of snow. Don didn't believe it (and truly, the meteorologists are seldom correct in our experience), but as soon as we arrived at our friends' house (an hour away) for a birthday party, the flakes started to fall. By the time we left late that evening, there were at least six inches accumulated on their porch. Others had called to warn us that there was almost no visibility on the highway. The roads were barely plowed. The brakes in our van need to be replaced. And Abby was crying. The adventure had begun.

Thankfully, my husband is a great driver, even in the worst of conditions. We knew that there would be many cars off the road - there always are during the first snowstorm, for some reason - but we were chugging along safely with my confident chauffeur at the wheel. Abby fell asleep in a few minutes, and not long after, the older children did too. The sky was bright with snowclouds, yet it was strangely dark. Stores, gas stations, and even hotels sat in eerie darkness while snow piled up around them. They had no power - which meant neither did the street lights. Or the traffic lights. We cruised through several blackened lights and hoped we wouldn't miss the sign for the highway, since many of the roadsigns were covered with snowdrifts. Eventually we were on the highway, following in the tire tracks while the lines were buried.

An hour long car ride in good weather becomes quite a bit longer in snow, and just a bit too long for a newborn's patience. As we slowly neared our exit, passing a pile-up of cars in the breakdown lane surrounded by blue flashing lights, Abby woke up crying. Talking, singing, and letting her suck my finger had no effect, and her cries eventually escalated into full-fledged screams of distress, which certainly weren't helping my skilled driver pay attention to the road. Since we live in the day and age of seatbelt laws, I won't go into details of how it was accomplished, but eventually Abby was comforted, and we all arrived home safely to our very dark and quiet house. Our power was out, too.

We lit candles and tucked the children in with extra blankets. I am very thankful to have town water, because we at least had running water while we lacked heat and electricity. Abby wouldn't fall asleep, so I sat in the office and rocked her, looking out the snow covered trees. The next morning, the house was a frosty 56 degrees and the yard was littered with fallen branches.
I realized why the trees had looked so strange the night before: normally, snow falls on bare branches. Never before have I seen trees covered in green leaves and snow at the same time! And the weight of snow-covered leaves had caused massive damage throughout the region, taking down power lines and obstructing roads. We were very fortunate to have our power back by lunch time on Sunday. While many even in our town waited another 24 hours or more for electricity, we were without it for just long enough to truly appreciate the luxuries of electric heat, hot showers, and warm drinks.

All bundled up

Sweet Abigail is just three weeks old and blissfully unaware of what happens outside her window, but if she could remember it, she would have quite a story to tell her grandchildren. In less than a month, she has lived through all four seasons of weather (except, perhaps, the one we're supposed to be experiencing) and survived a potentially dangerous trip through an unusual snowstorm. For those of us old enough to understand, this October's wacky weather has been a chance to remember the One who reigns over the skies and the seasons. Tonight I am thanking the Lord for His protection, His providence, and His power to control the forces of nature - in any way He chooses!

See, the Lord, the LORD Almighty,
will lop off the boughs with great power.
The lofty trees will be felled,
the tall ones will be brought low.

Isaiah 10:33

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