Snow White, Your Castle Is On Fire

Believe me, it was no fairy tale. Beautiful, I suppose, but my sense of aesthetics after last week’s significant snow was overshadowed by a brooding sense of dread.  

I had calculated “no problem” with my scheduled Thursday meeting in Salem that would have me home by just after noon. The snow shouldn’t start until at least two, I told an overly-anxious wife, headed of to work knowing she’d be spending the night sleeping in an out-patient room and maybe not home for several days because of the predicted snow.  

It started around two as sleet and ice pellets falling perfectly vertical. It continued all night, piling up close to a foot in places. We (I should say I, since it was just me. And Gandy) lost power at 8 pm that evening. Not so bad. Close enough to bedtime that I threw some wood on the stove and piled under the covers. I’d do my best to NOT get up when the internal alarm went off at 4 a.m. One can only read for so long by candle light; I’d have more of that, come evening. 

The most fun was Friday night when our (new) neighbor called to say “Fred, I don’t want to alarm you but from our house, it looks like your roof is on fire.” 

It alarmed me. I rushed out to discover to my horror a dazzling white-hot fire in the woods not 100 feet from the back of the house. I rushed back to call 911 before I realized it was in the power line clearing. Spark! Sizzle! Smoke, steam, flash and freak me out! 

Long story short, after being told the broken sizzling line would stay just as it was until Tuesday, I raised enough noise (calling from the cell from down the road) that repairs were expedited, and power returned Saturday just at dark. 

We did get the generator cranked, and ran it for about three ear-splitting hours to re-freeze the half a pig we have yet in our little freezer. So no great disasters here, just enough concern so that this snow was not as lovely as it might have been, beauty being in the eye of a beholder prepared to notice.

I have only this one shot above [click to enlarge] I looked up and was smitten by the brilliance of the sun just hitting the ridge behind the house. I had just spent 45 minutes work shoveling out the chicken pen. Had to take the gate off the pins to get inside, so much snow it wouldn’t swing. We do this for two chickens? 

Well, no, now only one. The black one was sitting pretty as you please at the front of the nesting perch, dead as a post.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I can see why you were in no mood to enjoy the beauty, but thanks for taking the photo for the rest of us to enjoy it. The travails of rural living in snow country sound very daunting to me, in my pampered southern California beach town. Having a concerned neighbor call you, and an emergency crew expedite power restoration, however, sound like two things that would warm my heart.

  2. Fred,
    Love that picture. Goodness life in the country can be scary. Do you loose power a lot? Is it your location, further out, rather than say, downtown Floyd or is it county wide or city wide? Just curious.
    I must say, I admire you do all that for one chicken! However, what else could you do? Honestly, after 30 years in Florida, I guess the Lord knew hubby and I simply could not pick up and move year round to a beautiful area like Floyd, VA. Probably the first snow, as beautiful as it would be for me to photograph, would have us running back to the kids in Florida, when the roads were clear.

    Still, looking at the picture, I can still dream. Are you having the frigid temperature now?

    Blessings and stay warm.

  3. I was hoping for a picture of the snow in Floyd; love this one. We had a popping, sizzling line in the fire break on our side of Tinker Mountain, too. Everyone in the neighborhood lost power except for my house and the several other houses on our side of the road.