Thursday, January 7, 2010

You Will Shudder to Read This Book

For those of you living in warmer climes...if you want to experience our bitter cold vicariously...read the non-fiction book, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin. It is a chilling (no pun intended) real-life tale of the blizzard of January 12, 1888, a monster storm that took the Dakotas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa by complete surprise. It will cause you to get a clear look at the unexpected deadliness that winter can throw at you. I highly recommend this book for anyone living on the Great Plains. It will give you second thought as to your own ability to second-guess "winter". (It's been a long time since I read the "Little House on the Prairie" books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, but if I remember correctly, she writes of one such storm...perhaps the same one of 1888.)

Seems like I have gone mono-topic here lately. Bitter Cold. More Bitter Cold. Blizzard Cold. (That's all one topic.)

Snow yesterday. Temps zero and below. Today we have wind blowing through like a freight-train after howling all night. It will not abate until around midnight tonight. That means it is pointless right now to shovel driveways.

My Mom's furnace? Still waiting for the part. She is on the phone with the gas company this morning. Her home is cooler than its usual temp. The thermostat shows 70 degrees in the living room so the portable electric heaters are doing the trick. It helps that her home was "winterized" a couple years back with extra insulation, etc. She knows how to layer clothing and she does not want to come over to our house...which at the moment would be possible only if we find someone with a 4-wheel drive.

I can't blame the gas company. It seems furnaces quit only under two circumstances...either in the midst of the worst storm of the year OR while you are preparing Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. The gas company keeps a stock of portable heaters on hand for emergency use and they told her they had to go out and buy more this past week. Hers is not the only furnace to be on the fritz. In fact, the fellow doing our sheetrock work had his go out the same night. His was an old Lennox but he was able to find parts and have it working again within two days.

Today Mom is planning to take some frozen bread dough out and bake it. That will warm up the kitchen. And she plans to use her washer and dryer...they are on different circuits than the electric heaters so that should be no problem.

Tomorrow the high will be a minus 5. And overnight, into Saturday AM, the temp will dip once again to 20 below or lower with wind-chills down to -35 or -40 degrees. That's cold, Folks!

But even though I am focused on "here", I am also concerned about the possible freezes down in the southern states that may damage crops. Here's hoping you manage to stay up above freezing!

.

13 comments:

S. Etole said...

I understand the snow/cold combo ... and it's only January! {and my word verification is "warma" ... let's hope so}

MelPollard said...

When you say take "frozen bread dough out" do you mean to say "take frozen bread dough off the frozen counter and bake?" :)

Debby said...

Laura Ingall's story was set in winter 1880-spring 1881. I met with a writer who has written extensively about the Wilder Family. My question had always been: were there deaths? Did people die during this winter. Surprisingly the answer was no. No lives were lost in DeSmet North Dakota, where Laura's story took place, although not all small towns fared so well. I will look for the book. Terrible that people dealt with two such winters in less than a decade.

But, present day...you folks cannot travel without a four wheel drive? Good heavens.

Dashes off to read more about the midwest weather.

Kerry ABOUT ME said...

I just read that Little House to my girls in the fall. It is eye opening. In TN we never have winters that bad. When we get a few inches of snow it is a big event and no one seems capable of driving. I used to love it as a kid. You guys stay warm and don't get cabin fever!

Kerry

The Old Geezer said...

Yikes! That's cold
be careful

Laurie M. said...

This is one reason I live in California, though I must say, Northern CA, is even too cold for me. My mom was from Maine. I believed her walking to school in the snow stories. She went on to live most of her adult life in California. She never expressed a longing for Maine, nor did her reminisces seem particularly fond.

You are an amazing lady and I'm glad you and your mom are holding up so well. One thing I've observed: the Midwest produces tough stock.

supplies overflowing! said...

brrrr.
We are big fans of the Little House series. Laura could paint a picture with her words.
Hope you are out of the deep freeze soon. It has been cold and windy here (NJ) but we are having tropical weather compared to you!
Stay warm!
jenny

Beth said...

Your hair looks great in your picture! I'm in Winnipeg, so we expect our cold weather, it's been down to -40 already this winter.

Have a good weekend!
Beth

Marian S. said...

My kids and I read the book, "A Children's Blizzard" a few years back! The majority of deaths were children....thus the title. The day started out warm and turned bitter cold as white-out conditions moved in fast. Children couldn't find their way home from school or even across the barnyard in some cases.

David Laskin said...

As the author of The Children's Blizzard, I was delighted and honored by your post. Lovely blog! I adore Laura Ingalls Wilder and her book "The Long Winter" was a major inspiration for me. I have a new book coming out this March about the immigrant experience in the First World War -- check out my site www.thelongwayhomebook.com. Thanks!

Relyn said...

I'm off to my library's website. I gotta request this book. Thanks.

WhiteStone said...

To David Laskin! I am honored and completely surprised to see you "autograph" my blogpost. And to my readers, Laskin's book, "The Children's Blizzard" is fascinating. And chilling (no pun intended) because it so authentically points out the dangers of winter storms.

Dorothy said...

A new addition to my "must be read list." I do know firsthand what life in the cold zone is like but that book sounds fascinating. Thanks, Whitestone.