Chicken coops under snow.

Snow capped birdfeeder on the lower left.
Chicken coop that shelters two Australorps, a Speckled Sussex and a Wyandotte.  

Paperwhite narcissi and snowdrop on windowsill.
Most residents of the Greater Washington D..C. metropolitan area have little experience with harsh winters. Snow storms that would not faze midwesterners, paralyse the nation's capital. The very mention of a possible storm drives hordes of householders to supermarkets where they fall upon groceries like crazed locusts. Typically, they grab all paper products before they move on to canned goods and perishables. Once they have ended the grocery shopping frenzy, many head to the hardware where, typically, there are never enough snow shovels. Pity the fool who manages to buy and then leaves outside. Enthusiasts of free enterprise liberate it within minutes.

Having lived in the Dakotas during my first three years in the United States, I  tend to scoff at this winter madness. After all, hereabouts there is rarely a storm that qualifies as blizzard. I stock my pantry as a matter of course. I hate driving and when I do venture out to the little shopping mall nearby, I buy enough groceries for four or six weeks. If absolutely necessary I make a couple of extra runs for perishables. That is the extent of my hoarding.  My snow shovel is tucked safely in my mud room. I have no reason to panic even though Saturday brought a whopping forty inches of snow  instead of the predicted twenty-some. I am calm even though by Sunday mornings I was properly marooned. By then, traffic stopped, the university, elementary and high schools closed, and a great silence descended upon the town. Birds stopped singing, There was no sign of the ubiquitous crows that patrol my backyard  and the Canada geese that  fly by my window at least twice a day, apparently cancelled  trips to or from the Potomac river.

I am  calm. Prior to  Snowmaggedon 2016 a good friend  brought me milk, eggs--my chickens rarely lay eggs in winter--and the matches I need in order to start my woodstove.At the advice of my who grew up in  Montana,  I  piled up logs by the front door and covered them with a tarp. I  fed the chickens and filled up their water containers. I cooked a large batch of tyrkey-beef kofta and another of brown rice. I deployed  four Andrea Camilleri novels around the house. What else can one  I possibly need?

I need the internet. It allows me to read newspapers and to catch up with friends and family. I also need cell phone service for emergencies. Luckily, I have both. Better yet, I do not anticipate any emergenciesI ave a clear path to my sidewalk, courtsey of my lovely next door neighbor.. It is good to to know I can make a quick geaway although my major outing is limited to a visit to the chicken coops. . 

Now, day five of Snowmaggedon, there is still no traffic on my street. Snow removal crews have been at work since Saturday night ploughing and trucking snow to whatever it is that snow goes to die. Some householders have shovelled their sidewalks and parking spaces. My own sidewalk is impassable and  my car remains tucked under a  little igloo.  I am fine with that. I have been planning my garden, reading, and cooking.  A couple of days ago I finished Andrea Camilleri's THE AGE OF DOUBT--review at and I celebrated with a chicken coconut curry that did not fit in with the Sicilian background of the novel, but which was delicious all the same.

Tonight I will start another Camilleri novel, have some onion soup with homemade whole wheat bread, and dream of all the flowers and veggies I will be growing in spring. I have parperwhite narcissi blooming on my bedside table and an amaryllis growing in a pot on a windowsill. The snow is melting. The birds--wren and crows-- are back. The geese grumble mightily on the way to the river. My cat is snoring at mt feet. I am safe, I am calm, I am warm and for that I am grateful.


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