By morning, a dusting of snow had softened winter’s dark lines and sharp angles. Throughout the day, the storm sifted down a deafening silence of eyelash soft flurries. When we awoke the next day we reveled in the blurry white embrace of a rounded world. Fence posts topped with mushroom perfection. Cedars and firs bowing with their pillowed gifts. All things flat had gained marshmallow hats and the unbroken smoothness of the streets and yards beckoned for footprints. We obliged them.
By the third morning, with the plows having somehow missed our street, if not our town, and the snow never quitting its powdered sugar descent, worry snuck in. By week’s end we began to plan our escape. When we ventured to trench our way beyond our side door, we got as far as the street before turning back. Too much to shovel, too soft to wade through, exhaustion overwhelmed us. We’d hoped to break through to some gap, some sign of rescue. Only the occasional hallo from a neighbor, no, we’ve neither seen nor heard from anyone but you and us.
Twelve days now and our homemade snowshoes are ready. We’re leaving out the second story window over the garage. We wear our ski clothes and goggles as the blizzard conditions have scarcely let up. The power has been out for days, but the gas stove has kept us alive. We boiled snow and ate down our stores, cans and sacks we never imagined we’d use but are grateful for their presence. Thank god for our ancestors’ habits. Whoever thought lima beans could taste so good?
It took all day, but we’re finally to the grocery store. There’s a ramp down to the entrance and there are lanterns burning inside. National Guard soldiers keep the peace, they nod to us as we traipse into the dimly lit entry way. We can buy only so much, and the selection is limited, but we’re relieved there’s anything at all.
We’re told to head to the high school where most of the town has gathered for warmth and food. Generators are running and the place is ready for us.
We spend the night, and the next. The snow never quits. We stay until supplies, the Guard says, that should have arrived, never show up. You might be better off fending for yourselves, they tell us. We take what they offer, and the remaining supplies we didn’t share and head back toward home. We have trouble navigating as the snow covers the street signs and what looks like a road is just an open patch without trees. But we make it.
A few neighbors have candles burning in third story windows, their second stories are mostly buried. We, ourselves, only have an attic. We have to dig down to reenter our window. With the stove fired up and warm porridge in our bellies we sit on cushions and blankets in the attic and stare out the circular window at the snow that continues to fall.