I was planning to write about the winter storm here in Texas, the surprise of being without electricity or heat from 2am Monday to 1am thereabouts Thursday. We didn’t lose water, thank goodness, but plenty of my friends and students did. Some people are still without water.
Aside from the love, dogs provide heat! We all slept in the same room (ice on the inside of the window) and we managed. Of course, we were fine. We have shelter and food and blankets. And we learned a few lessons. Since then I’ve gotten a proper coat, bad weather boots, and took stock of what we have and what we do in a weather emergency.
This is much snow for folks up north, but the freezing temperatures nearly brought down the entire Texas power grid. (You can read about the power grid here if you’re so inclined.)
A couple days after the above picture was taken, a bird fell dead out of the tree. It fell face first into the snow. A short while later a sewer up the street backed up and created a stream running in front of the house.
I focused on needing to boil water, water containers, power, blankets, batteries, flashlights, sleeping bags, food, winter clothes, dogs, family, friends, news, and I don’t know what else. (That’s probably too many things to claim I focused. But I certainly stayed busy. Except for when I was very cold and just sat in a chair under layers of clothes.)
The first morning I woke at 5am, cold, and finding a text message stating our power would be off for about “40 minutes or a little longer.” A little longer being actually almost 48 hours in 10 degree weather. Well, it did finally get into the 20s. A day that happened to be my son’s 18th birthday. Happy Birthday! No heat, no Internet, no TV!
If you look, you might be able to guess where the bird was before a scavenger made off with it.
I talked to my dad every day during this and the days of recovery after. Every day. He talked to me about weather and doctor appointments and grandkids.
He called me last night to say he and his wife had moved. SURPRISE!
The first time he mentioned selling the house and moving was in November 1989 about two days after my mom died. I burst into tears and he didn’t mention it again for a while. Then every so often he’d mention it. Basically, I heard the conversation like this. He didn’t want to move unless he could move next to another lake. His wife wanted to move because she was convinced they’d be murdered living out in the middle of nowhere.
Then a couple years ago, Dad again mentioned the idea of selling the house. Honestly, he needed to consider it. He’s in his 80s. His wife is in her late 70s and not in the best health. The house has a huge yard and dad has lived in that house since about 1963. It needs work.
But every time I asked him about selling the house he had no concrete plans, said nothing about what to do with all the stuff they had, never mentioned looking for another place, and said things like, “I don’t know. It seems like a lot of work to move.” And “I don’t want move. Here I don’t have neighbors to worry about.”
Last year around the beginning of the pandemic, he and his wife had a massive argument, and in the end his wife told me, “Your dad told he’s not ever going to sell the house.” And when I asked my dad if he was still thinking about selling the house, he said, “I don’t want to.”
I brought it up again over the summer, and my dad blew off the question. I know when my dad doesn’t want to be bothered about something, so I quit asking. They’d have to leave the house eventually but I wasn’t going to push it. After all, I didn’t really want him to move. He wouldn’t just leave the house and the lake, he’d move to another town to be closer to one of his wife’s children.
But then last night he called and said, “We’re in our new house.”
The announcement knocked me sideways.
I love that dock. No matter what train wrecks were happening elsewhere, I could walk on the dock and look out over the water. Wide swaths of birds swooped overheard. In winter, large flocks settled on the island in the middle of the lake and egrets skimmed the surface. There were mosquitos and snakes and alligators. Summers stuck to the skin. The smell of muck scrunched up the nose. It wasn’t perfect.
But it could be magic. I will miss it.
Thanks for reading.