We Texans are complete and utter wimps when it comes to freezing precipitation. We admit to it and are comfortable with the fact, primarily because we get so very little snow or ice down here. As a schoolteacher, we might get one or two days off for freezing conditions every school year - and you need to understand, we cancel school at the sight of a snowflake! So on the rare, joyous occasion when accumulated ice and snow give us a day off work, we take great joy in the opportunity for relaxation that a snow day provides.
This winter, the meteorologists have been teasing us with forecasts of snow or sleet that haven't come to pass. Two or three times they have put it in the five day outlook only to take it out again as the promised day grew closer. So last week, when they said we might get a winter weather event come Monday, I took it with a grain of salt. But as the promised day grew closer, the probability began to increase rather than decrease, and I began to get my hopes up. Saturday was gorgeous - I went walking along the lakeshore in my shirtsleeves and was completely comfortable the whole time, even as the sun began to set. In fact, I was a bit hot when I got back to my trusty Nissan Xterra, because I'd been hustling to get there before it was completely dark. But Sunday dawned cold and rainy, and the temperatures kept dropping all day. That evening Patty and I watched on the news as the freeze line began to approach from the west and the thermometer neared the 32 degree mark. Around 9 PM I got the much-awaited group text from my school - classes canceled tomorrow! An hour later, Patty got the same message from her campus.
So what do two middle aged teachers do when they get a whole day off, socked in by terrible weather? (And it was yucky - it began sleeting at 6 AM and continued through this afternoon!) Well, the obvious answer is "Sleep in!" That was my full intent, but at 6 AM my wife had to get up, and when she came back to bed she TURNED THE LIGHT ON for a moment, its scalding brightness searing my eyeballs as I had just raised my lids to see what she was up to! Then she lay down and began scrolling through text messages on her phone. The LED screen really isn't that bright, but in my sleep-befuddled condition it felt like Nazi storm troopers were interrogating me with strobe lights and rubber truncheons. After a half hour or so of this, she decides to roll over and go back to sleep - while I am totally wired and unable to doze off, no matter how hard I try!
So I got on up and went downstairs, hopped onto my faithful desktop PC and checked out my various social media and discussion forums, making sure to gloat at those who were having to go in to work today. Then I went to my relic room and catalogued my most recent artifact finds (my collection is up to almost 8800 catalogued Indian artifacts, the vast majority of them personal finds). After that I went upstairs and took great pleasure in waking my wife on up. She made French toast for the family, and I completed two of my winter weather rituals: dashing outside and running a complete lap around the house in T-shirt, shorts, and bare feet (don't ask me why I do this), and then later in the afternoon, after watching a really terrible B-movie called LOST LEGION, I got in my SUV and drove to the end of the road and back to see what conditions were like (pretty bad still).
By now it was 3 in the afternoon, and time to do the one chore I had been dreading the most: feeding my goats. I bought two 50 lb sacks of goat food on my "stocking-up run" (a mandatory tradition in the South anytime there is the remotest chance of the slightest accumulation of freezing precipitation - you are required to go to your local grocery store and/or Wal-Mart and buy enough food and sundries to last you through a mid-sized zombie apocalypse) the day before, but had left them in the back of my vehicle because it was getting dark when I got home with them and I had no desire to carry them down to the barn in the very cold rain. But now the ground was mostly frozen and I had boots on, so I grabbed a sack over my shoulder and headed down to the barn. The goats (we have 27 of them at the moment) were ravenous, and I tried to beat them into the barn and shut the gate so I could empty the sacks and fill their troughs in peace, but five of them slipped in ahead of me. I emptied the sack into the grain bin and had to run back to the car for the other one, this time pushing my way through goats outside AND inside the barn, all clamoring for food. So I finally got the feed in the troughs and did a quick count of all our new kids - all about 6 weeks or so old - and came up one short. They are just entering what we affectionately call "the stupid stage" where the young goats discover that they can stick their head through the goat wire to graze on the other side of the fence, but their little horns don't let them fit their heads back through quite so easily. I had visions of a poor, half-frozen kid shivering in the cold with his head stuck in the fence, so my daughter Rachel and I walked the entire perimeter looking for the missing baby - only to find him in the barn with his mom when we got back! We figured he must have been hidden in the pushing, shoving clump of goats around the trough the first time we counted.
So here I am back at the house, and I really need to get to finish the next chapter of my work in progress, a novel called LOVER OF GOD, since I left my main character, Marcus Quintus Publius, in the middle of a tense interview with the High King of the Parthian Empire - but my muse is snoozing on the job today, so I wrote this blog entry instead. I hope you enjoyed it.