Created on: December 05, 2012 Last Updated: December 06, 2012
Weather wise, it seems my boyhood days have returned with a vengeance. The blizzards and snowstorms depicted on nightly TV news programs look a lot like those I remember from the good old days of my youth in northern California.
Snapping cold weather came from all directions back then without the warning of television broadcasts or radio reports. Someone on the telephone party line might think to ring neighbors up to alert them to get their cows milked early and stack some split wood on the porch: "Snow's coming your way; hit here in a howling wind an hour ago."
When the storm arrived and the snow began to pile up, having a well-stoked wood stove on the heat made a lot of difference to everyone's comfort. My parents made up beds in the kitchen so we youngsters didn't have to sleep in a freezing bedroom located far from the stove.
Some of the stove wood had gotten wet and it became necessary to carry armloads of it inside to dry out either beside the heating stove or in the open oven of the cook stove. The memory of that steaming, hot wood lingered for a long time in the the odor receptors of our noses.
The storm whuffed its way through the valley during the night and we woke to clear skies and frigid temperatures. My mother worried about the chickens so my dad went to check on them after he got the fires going. He returned in a few minutes with a brown hen in his arms. The hen bobbed her head and peered nervously around the kitchen with its big cast iron cook stove.
"The chickens' legs froze and they all fell off the roost," he said.
"You better bring them in to warm up by the fire," my mother said.
It took about 45 minutes for all those frozen chicken legs to thaw out so the hens could move around and peck at some grain my dad threw down for them. They left a mess on the floor to clean up, but they all survived. Mother told us that in Ireland long ago, some farmers built shelter for their livestock as part of the family dwelling so the animals would not freeze in winter. It worked for them; that winter, it worked for us.
Next day a neighbor came from a mile down the road to see how we had made out during the storm that had come and gone. He said he had walked right over the fence between his place and where we lived. During the night of the storm, the fence line had captured the blizzard in a six-foot drift of compacted snow. The top four inches melted during the day and then froze to a solid layer of ice in the night. Dad said the neighbor scaled out at about
Below are the top articles rated and ranked by Helium members on:
Memoirs: Extreme snowstorms