What to do when snowed in?
It has been awhile since I have actually felt “snowed in.” Our winters in northwest Arkansas are so varied that being “snowed in” is not something that happens often. Some winters bring hardly any snow at all. When we do have snow, it often happens that the melting starts right away, and only a day or two after a snow most of the accumulation is melted away. But every so often, we can see a real winter storm, with heavy snow, sleet and ice, and sometimes it stays on for days; even weeks.
I recall the winter of 1983, when the temperature stayed near 0 for a month, and our ponds and streams froze over with thick layers of ice, much as they commonly do in the northern states.
Being “snowed in” is somewhat of a relative term, and it can mean different things to different people, depending on where you live and what you commonly do. “Snowed in” means that you are confined by the wintry weather and the slick and dangerous conditions it creates. In our case, when I was growing up, we thought ourselves as snowed in when we couldn’t get our car out of the driveway, and when the cold and icy wind made “staying in” so nice that we didn’t want to get outside any more than necessary.
Of course, being a farm family, with livestock to care for, chickens to attend to, and chores needing doing every day no matter what, we never were absolutely “snowed in.” For us, the cows had to be milked, the herd needed hay and water, the chickens needed to be fed and watered and kept reasonably insulated from the cold. There was no way we could just stay in the house in tough weather and still maintain our livelihood.
But there were definitely times when we spent more time than usual “staying in” because of the cold and ice. We got out, and got the necessary chores done, but then we would get back in the house to soak up some warmth from the old wood stove.
What does a person do when you are “snowed in?”
I suppose that in these days of smart phones and video games, those become a source of entertainment for many people. But what did we do back when none of those things were available? Many of our people living now can readily remember when nobody had TV, when the Internet had not been invented, when there were no cell phones, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, and when there was nothing electric in the house because there was no electricity. Do people today suppose that everybody back then just led a boring life?
As I recall, life has always been interesting. I don’t recall very many times when I was seriously bored. One learns to discover interests by responding to the available opportunities.
When we were “snowed in,” that meant that we had snow to play in, as well as to come in from. Even when the cold was bad, we usually saw the snow as a fun opportunity. It was after we were “about froze” that we would come in to warm by the fire. Being inside was also an opportunity to learn a musical instrument. I can play the piano, guitar and mandolin moderately well today because of beginning back there in the 1940s when we were snowed in.
I know a bit about tuning and repairing pianos because of experimenting with our old Ellington upright piano on cold winter days. Being “snowed in” might also be an opportunity to read Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn or some other book, or to read a magazine or a newspaper. We always had the Farm Journal, Hoard’s Dairyman, Country Gentleman, Benton County Democrat and Southwest Times Record. Those were always interesting.
Then there was radio. Well, yes, back in the 1940s we had some electronic technology. No, it wasn’t transistorized like today’s electronics. Our radios were filled with glowing clear glass tubes, which did the magic that is handled by today’s transistors, but they got the job done. Radio programs back then were more like TV programming.
We could listen to situation comedies, music programs like Grand Ole Opry, soap operas and so on. Some of my favorites were the Lone Ranger, the Green Hornet, The Shadow, Inner Sanctum and Sky King. We also had Ozzy & Harriet, Jack Benny, Luigi Basco, I Love Lucy, Our Miss Brooks, Amos and Andy, and others.
There’s always something interesting going on and things to do, both now and way back then.
Editor’s note: Jerry Nichols, a native of Pea Ridge and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 621-1621.