It Wasn’t the Worst of Times
In my last post, I told the story of the worst winter of my life. The Great Texas Freeze of 2021 wasn’t really so bad for us; we were extremely fortunate compared to many others.
We had four days of rolling blackouts. Many people were completely without power for days or even weeks. We never lost water, while people in the hills went without running water for days or weeks. We did have a boil-water order for a few days, so I made tea and coffee when we had power; I also had emergency drinking water stored in the garage. If we had needed water to flush, we could have scooped buckets out of the pool.
After nearly four years in our house we had never used the fireplace. It still had wood left by the previous owners. I had no idea if it would even draw, so I lit a piece of paper and figured out which way to pull the flue lever to open it. (In our previous home it was side to side; this one is back to front.) We had a Solstice Party in 2019. We had a firepit in the backyard and wood provided by friends for the party. I hauled the wood in out of the snow and let it dry out. It burned fine, and husband spent his days tending the fire, which kept him both warm and occupied. When he wasn’t fiddling with the fire he sat with his feet on the hearth and a book in his hands.
The dog didn’t like the snow at first but once he got used to it he and the granddaughter played in it. A tall shrub on the front walk was bent over by ice, but it has straightened itself up and seems to be fine. It’s hard to say which of the landscaping shrubs will come back; the experts say “wait and see.” I’m pretty sure the rosemary is coming back. It’s hard to kill rosemary.
On the Wednesday of the storm week, a friend in Austin asked if we could take in a relative who was traveling back to Austin from Arizona and had no place to stay and was running low on gas. Never knowing when power would be on or off, we welcomed him with the disclaimer that we may or may not have power. As it happened I was able to serve tuna melt sandwiches and potato chips for supper, and when the power came back on at about 4 a.m. the next morning, it stayed on for good, so he had coffee and toast. Our guest prepared to leave with snow falling heavily. I could hear him on the phone talking to his wife, who was obviously trying to persuade him to stay; we told him he could stay as long as he needed, but he really wanted to get home. We suggested a route on which he might find gas, and he said if he could get gas he would go on; if not he would come back. He texted me from the gas station that he did have gas, and he texted from San Antonio that he was staying in a hotel, and he got back to Austin the next day, Friday (we are normally a two-hour drive from Austin). He left some things behind and returned the following week, in warm sunshine, with cookies baked by his wife and granddaughter. We were just happy we could help, and having a visitor was actually a nice break in our week.
Our weather has warmed up to normal spring-like temperatures, school is back in and we are grateful we got off as easy as we did. The most annoying thing about rolling blackouts is you never knew when it would off or come back on, or for how long either way. It seemed like whenever we would comment on how long it had been on: blackout, early bed.
Texas authorities have a lot to answer for. This should never have happened in a wealthy state in a developed country. We will remember in 2022, when our governor (who first blamed the wind vanes for freezing until he was called out on the fact that it was the gas generators that failed) is up for re-election.