No depth perception and bitter cold. White obliterated the outside world. The snow was blowing so intensely that you could not see more than a foot in front of your face. Perilous situation. Life on the prairie has its hazards and whiteout blizzard conditions is one of them.
My grandparents had huge metal eyehooks located on the corner of each building about four feet from the ground. Every fall they would string long ropes from one hook to another. It was annoying to have to duck under the rope. However, the rope was a lifeline. A sudden squall from the prairie would powerfully scatter loose snow so that you would not be able to determine where you were in the yard. If you could find a rope, you could locate safety inside a building. Most country dwellers left one door unlocked during the winter to make certain that you could get out of the wind. Too many people die of hypothermia a few feet from safety or just outside a locked door.
Sometimes a storm would blow up while we were at school. It was too treacherous to let the country kids travel home. The bus may drop them off but they could get lost walking down the driveway. Lana and her sisters or other country kids would stay with us during blizzards. I would call home to get permission and we would be let out of class when there was a break in the wind. We would dash home and my mom would call the school and their parents to verify that we had made it safely.
Wind is unpredictable. One blustery day Lana and her younger sister Lisa came home with me. We trudged over four foot tall drifts for two blocks without a problem but then the wind gusted and landmarks disappeared. We linked ourselves together using our coat belts and I led the way slowly. We found my neighbor’s house that always left their garage side door unlocked. The neighbor wasn’t home but I went in to call my mom and left a note apologizing for the snow in the garage. After about ten minutes the wind decreased enough for us to keep walking. The three-block journey took an hour and we were exhausted. Mom called the school and Lana’s parents. The storm howled for three days before Lana’s folks were able to safely journey into town.
Blizzards cause the Minnesota State Highway Patrol and Minnesota Department of Transportation to shut down the roads. Anyone traveling is taken off the thoroughfare and brought into town. The hotels quickly fill and then the trekkers would be sent into private homes. My parents would accept strangers into our home on the weekend and if we didn’t have country kids during the week. We had a lumpy fold out couch to hold two people and a couple cots. Not the Ritz but better than freezing in a ditch.
I was in grade school and my siblings were in high school when four college students arrived on a wintry Saturday. Males. They were nice but flirted with my sisters. Dangerous. My dad was so paranoid that he pulled out a sleeping blanket and stayed in the hallway that night to make certain that no hanky-panky occurred. The four young studs departed after lunch when the roads were deemed safe. One of them even sent a thank you note and twenty dollars. Another time a couple stole from us so they were the final visitors allowed. A few years ago the city switched to setting up a Red Cross shelter instead of placing strangers into private residences.
I always have a disaster kit in the trunk of the car and another in the house. Usually there isn’t much danger living in the Twin Cities. I’ve been stuck in at home for two or three days due to a snowstorm. I don’t travel out of the Cities during the winter very often due to several near accidents. I call my parents instead of visiting. Prepare yourself, family, friends, and pets for disaster. Make an emergency kit with instructions from www.ready.gov and take classes from the Red Cross.
Dairy Farm Tails, Part IV more posted January 26th, January 30th, and February 6th.
© 2012 Ima B. Musing