Where Was Moses…?
When I was a callow bay-boy, in the days when Albertosaurs trod the plains, this inane joke made the rounds: Asked, “Where was Moses when the lights went out?” you’d answer, “In the dark,” and the jokester would reply, “No, that was after the lights went out.” From that point questions and replies sounded sillier than Abbot and Costello doing, “Who’s on third?”
On Jan. 14 of this brand new year, I know where I was when the lights went out on the Avalon. I was stogged up to my arse in a snowdrift uttering bad words because my snow blower had chosen this most inopportune time to balk worse than Nelson, a stubborn pony Pappy owned during the Cretaceous era.
Sheltered in the porch, Dearest Duck bravely stuck her head into the blizzard to call, “Harry, my snowblown love, the power is gone.”
“Lovely,” I said, then repeated the sentiment with qualifying words buddy Webster hadn’t included in his renowned compendium.
“What did you say?” Dearest Duck wondered rhetorically as she hauled her sweet cheeks back inside.
Snow whizzling around my frozen chops, I changed my tune, spoke coaxingly to my mulish machine and firmly pulled the starter chord. The blower coughed a time or two before commencing to determinedly chaw its way forward, burrowing into the drift like a gut-foundered ice worm. God love it, eh b’ys? Eventually I withdrew from my first foray against the blizzard and staggered into our rapidly cooling bungalow where Dearest Duck — God love ‘er more than the snowblower — had managed to keep a brew of herbal tea warm inside a cozy-insulated teapot.
“Harry, do you think anybody cares about your cup of tea? Folks had troubles of their own.”
“That they did, my Duck. Some of them, folks of corresponding vintage, may even have experienced flashbacks akin to mine.”
During the winter of 1957 my family lived in the woods, in the hinterland of Whitaker’s Point, a rocky promontory jutting out into the frigid water of Random Arm like a stubby nose. Traces of that bitter winter, like sour figs in an otherwise tasty duff, still linger in my psyche.
While the wind snarled at the siding, and the media dubbed the time Blizzard-Blackout 2014, Dearest Duck and I huddled around the chimney of an oil lamp I’d unearthed in the basement. Dearest Duck endured like Mother Courage, whoever she is. I trembled because in my noggin I was a frightened boy cowering inside our shack at Whitaker’s Point while outside a mid-century blizzard clawed at the tarpaper sheeting like Dunderland’s last wolf.
As did thousands, Dearest Duck and I suffered through the night.
“Harry, suffered is a bit strong. People certainly had it worse than us.” Yes, they did. Truly. But when Dearest Duck suggested we don our snowsuits and go to bed, perchance to neither sleep nor dream, tremors shook me as a dog might shake a slipper.
I feared waking from a frosty sleep to a situation as hazardous as I’d often faced in my bunk on Whitaker’s Point.
Because I was a Big Boy, in the winter of ’57 I was required to crawl into the top bunk to sleep flat on my back, my nose scant inches from the rafters.
I quickly learned that after a bonecold night I ought not sit upright in the morning, but, still on my back, sidle to the edge of my bunk and tumble to the floor. The first time I’d heedlessly sat up I nearly poked my eyes out with the icicles my condensing breath had formed on the rafters overnight. “Harry, you exaggerate.” Maybe a tad. But I did dwell on Whitaker’s Point.
And Blizzard-Blackout 2014 did dredge up memories.
I could rave on but Dearest Duck would chide me and remind me of my good fortune. I wasn’t awfully cold. I surely wasn’t hungry. I had my health and strength, as much as any codger can.
Besides, as Dearest Duck would surely remind me, she’d tucked in beside me, albeit bundled up in a constricting snowsuit. Thank you for reading. Footnote: For the extent of the Blizzard-Blackout — the Dunderland Crisis — fingers were pointed and blame was cast: the fault was this; the fault was that.
The men on the poles are to be commended. The men in suits still might benefit from a boot in the arse. — Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org