Where Was Moses…?

The Compass - - OPINION -

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.”

Ah, flash­backs.

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 gh­wal­ters663@gmail.com

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