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The Snow Child and the 12 Days of Darkness

We just had power restored this morning after 12 1/2 days--nearly two weeks--of a power outage from the Christmas 2013 Ice Stormpocalypse, followed by record cold temperatures. Luckily, our daughter Nux Gallica is a snow child.

Once upon a time, a young couple wished for a child. Thanks to their lucky stars, they found themselves to be fertile and conceived their child earlier than expected. Because she was ahead of schedule, the poor baby arrived way before her target birth in the spring, on a frigid January day.

Our wrinkly, slightly jaundiced little newborn came into the world with a strong resemblance to her Siberian great-grandmother, so we suspected she'd be tough. When she grew old enough to talk, she often said, "I like to be cold!" She spent her days as naked as possible in all seasons, adored the snow and ice, and rarely allowed blankets to lie upon her in sleep.

I have no idea if the above video depicts Siberian children who are strong and resilient because they do this every morning, or whether it depicts children who do this every morning because they are Siberian. Nux strongly suggests to me a genetic predisposition to tolerate cold temperatures.

In any case, her love of the winter sure came in useful over the holidays.

Nux has a creepy-long memory for a little kid, so we think she may remember this event for the rest of her life. I find that it's easier to do emotional judo than try to repress or calm strong emotions. My antidote to an extreme negative is an extreme positive. So I did my best to redirect the shock and horror and fear of what was happening into adventurous excitement. We spent some time playing with and admiring the beauty of the ice storm. Nux made snow angels, picked icicles off trees and sucked them, and helped me make a "snow lady" in the back yard.

We filled the time with as many fun activities as possible. We baked and decorated gingerbread cookies at my parents' house, visited relatives for Christmas, got Nux her first haircut, and celebrated the New Year by running an extension cord to our neighbor's garage so we could plug in the TV and watch Nacho Libre. (Nux has a thing for luchadors.)

Meanwhile, we shuffled from shelter to shelter (family and friends' houses, a mattress on the floor here, an expensive restaurant meal there). We came back to our house several times a day, whether we slept there huddled together in the darkness or not, to stoke the fire in our wood stove and keep it warm enough not to freeze and shatter. We considered abandoning the homestead after bleeding the pipes (and the radiant heating system and the hot water heater), but we feared for the beautiful plaster walls. And it was rough on DaddyMan trying to find a remotely comfortable place to sleep, among all the shifting refugees, that was close enough to get to work at the airport (where he toiled away as one of UPS's many "Santas" getting everyone's late-ordered packages sent on time) long before sunrise each day.

For two weeks solid, DaddyMan has chopped wood. Together, we've fed the fire, cooked on the wood stove, and kept our two-year-old safe and well. We've lined the stairs with fresh glow sticks every couple of days, turned our garage shelves into a pantry, and had cereal with half-frozen milk slush.

We checked in with the power company each day after Christmas by phone, and each day they assured us that they had us on the repair list and would get to us as soon as possible. Yesterday, DaddyMan posted an innocuous comment on a local news article declaring we'd been 12 days without power. Within minutes, he received phone calls from the newspaper (trying to get DaddyMan to talk smack about the General Manager of the Board of Water and Light, who is one of DaddyMan's customers at his bike shop--DaddyMan did not take the bait) and from another boss man at the Board of Water and Light, who acted as if he'd had no idea that we were still without power.

Whatever the truth of that may be, the fact that we'd made contact with the media seemed to expedite our power restoration (and that of our elderly next door neighbor). There are still broken portions of trees and hanging branches tangled through the power lines, threatening to tear them down again, and the utility apparently has no plans to clean those up, so we have our power back... for now.

We're exhausted but grateful. We're taking this as a lesson in never taking energy for granted. We feel strong in our ability to overcome great challenges for the good of our home and child. And we're pretty certain that, for better or worse, this has been one magical adventure of a holiday season, one that we'll all remember for the rest of our lives.

To all readers, especially parents of little ones, may you be warm, well, and full of resolve to pull the magic out of any storm that comes your way!

Visit the first Friday Monday of each month for more Middle Path Mother.


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