Monday, October 31, 2011

The Day After....

So many trees down.
On the day of the Freak Almost-Halloween snowstorm, Brenda and I went out into the slush and mounting snow to pick up some food and a 2-drawer file cabinet from her friend Cheyenne.

Cheyenne lives on a 90 acre farm where they raise grass-fed beef, and have several horses who are not pets and don’t have large balls to play with in their paddocks. One is an enormous Belgian draft horse whose hoofs are as large as a pie plate. He’s a gorgeous gentle animal whose main jobs are pulling a sleigh around Christmas time for tourists, and helping with tree clearing by hauling around a wagon full of tools and wood. Cheyenne’s house is a 300-year-old farmhouse that has been in her husband’s family for many generations. They purchased the farm next door and their now married son lives there. On that property they also have a small farm store where they sell their beef frozen, granola from a local bakery, and dairy products from neighbors. It smells like cinnamon when you walk through the warm door. 

Mexican Chiminea inside the 300 year old fireplace.
Fabulous juxtaposition.

In her newly remodeled kitchen, Cheyenne was making banana pudding and dinner for the hired hands who would be arriving shortly to fuel up for prolonged work all afternoon in the snow. Nothing had been put into winter storage, the place was inches deep in ice-cold mud, and there must have been tons of new chores to prepare for the foot or more of expected snow. We didn’t stay long, the roads were getting icy. Back at Brenda's place, I moved my car so it would be parked under an almost leafless tree. Just as I pulled forward a huge branch came down into the spot where my car had been. The rest of the day, we spent indoors listening to distant sirens and branches crashing all around us. The lights flickered a couple of times, but we never really lost electricity.

The next morning, the roads were slick, the sidewalks crunchy, and the neighborhood was awash in branches and trees. About 10:00 we ventured out to see if we could get to a road that follows the Delaware River.

Canada geese flying over the Delaware River

Her GPS, nicknamed PITA (Pain In The A**) led us down some country roads, many of which narrowed down in places to one lane because of downed trees. We chose to go around the Road Closed barriers, just to see what was down the lane. The closer we got to the Delaware River, the deeper the snow, and finally dead ends thanks to huge trees either downed or split in half. A woman we spoke with said that area had been without power since 1:00 the previous afternoon. In spite of the problems, it was a beautiful drive; lots of lovely little towns and farms made more beautiful by the snow.

The Red Mill, Clinton, NJ

We stopped in Clinton, NJ, a town with two picturesque old mills and open shops. We had lunch at a diner, the Towne Restaurant, that was celebrating 30 years in business. It was so packed we sat at the counter but still had no food for 45 minutes. It wasn’t packed because of the anniversary though. The waitress said most of the surrounding area was without power, so people had come into town to eat and get warm.

Beautiful snow covered farm
Awareness of just how much we depend on electricity is heightened in times like these. Even if a house has natural gas piped in, the furnace fans won’t run without electricity. Had power gone out in Bethlehem, we couldn’t have cooked a thing since Brenda’s stove is also electric. I thought one of the reasons it didn’t was that it was quite windy on Saturday and the wind shook enough snow off the trees that it didn’t build up.  Along those back country roads, the snow was plastered up and down the sides of tall fir trees, so obviously the wind had been vigorous there too. Near the river, the snow was much deeper, so perhaps it was simply a factor of quantity.

Why so many roads were closed.

The main roads were wet but not icy and flowing with traffic. We drove down the Delaware River valley to New Hope, just a bit south of the famous crossing of the Delaware by George Washington.  The oldest house in New Hope had a sign about its heritage. Apparently when they were restoring parts of it, they found buckshot in the roof beams, presumably from English muskets. The whole area is steeped in history. One of the horse-canals passes through and even flows OVER another creek via a water bridge. Amazing engineering back in those days.

Late afternoon, snow
is melted and fall
has returned.
Lambertville, NJ
Now, on Monday morning, much of the East Coast is still without electricity. And of course those wet roads froze into sheets of ice overnight making for a treacherous commute this morning. I’m guessing the stock market will tank a bit today too, once the amount of damage this storm caused is assessed. No one was prepared to deal with such an early onset of winter, certainly not the trees.

The storm outside of Cheyenne's kitchen window.