After growing up in northern Ohio and living on the East Coast for many years, we were accustomed to winter weather. But snow, ice and single digit temps in Texas? In the seven years we've been here, there have only been a few flakes of snow that didn't even stick to the ground.
So this week's severe weather, chronicled extensively in the national news, was a shock to the system. Texas is simply not equipped to handle it. Electric and gas power and water systems failed, leaving many people in real misery with burst pipes and no heat. We were fortunate in that our own power outage lasted just six hours. My daughters were not that lucky. By Monday afternoon, Hannah showed up with all three grandchildren in tow because electric, gas and water were all out at her house and everyone was cold. With the gas fireplace running, it was fairly comfortable in the family room. Alison and Matt came, too, because they had the same problems. Soon our small home was awash in winter coats, gloves and boots.
The kids actually did a pretty good job of entertaining themselves with electronics, as well as drawing and painting at the kitchen table. They helped me complete the 1,000-piece puzzle I'd been working on and we played Uno and , Scrabble. The grandchildren, who had not seen snow here before, were unfazed by the frigid temperatures and made short forays into the back yard to throw snow at each other, shouting the whole time.
The first morning, I made scones, which quickly disappeared. Sandwiches for everyone at lunch and beef stew with carrots and potatoes for dinner. Alison brought two cakes from Whole Foods. The next morning, it was pancakes and fruit. Hannah brought over the entire contents of her refrigerator and bags of snacks from Target, so there was plenty of food to go around. It was fun to have everyone here, although quite chaotic at times. The second night, Matt brought their two cats over to enjoy the warmth of the laundry room. Their elderly American Eskimo had already taken up residence with Toby, who largely ignored him. Hannah, who has a team of 70 reporting to her, took over my office and continued to work. When Whole Foods reopened, Alison reported that it was absolutely crazy there.
It was absolutely eerie to go anywhere. A quiet had descended on the streets and few lights were on. People here do not own snow shovels and the cities have no plows. Almost everything was closed. At night, we watched food shows on TV and just hung out together. It was actually great fun to have almost everyone here--Reagan stayed home with their dog, Luke. Our pool has a thick layer of ice and we don't know yet whether there has been damage to the pump.
By today, the snow-packed streets and parking lots were beginning to clear. The main roads are fairly dry and temps will rise into the high 50s and 60s in the coming week. The trees are beginning to bud and flocks of robins are everywhere. Now that's more like a Texas winter!
I'm Chris Barabasz, retired from a 35-year career managing communications for health care development (that's fundraising for you civilians). I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and freelance writer. My husband Andy and I moved from Delaware to Texas to be closer to our daughters and three adorable grandchildren.