Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Gift of an Icy Day

Weather is something that catches the attention of Texans, especially at this time of year.

Just five days ago, the temperature climbed so high(82 degrees) that I briefly ran the air-conditioner. This was Friday afternoon. I could have opened up the place, but then I would have brought in the wonderful mountain cedar pollen that blows in from the Midwest this time of year. So I used the AC instead.

Saturday, a norther blew in and the high was 36 degrees. Monday night, the temperatures plummeted below freezing and moisture--mostly fog and light sprinkles or drizzle--began to coat surfaces. While we have sand trucks, the occasional nature of icy roads makes driving really iffy. Snow? Easy to drive on. Ice? not so much. Sand trucks cover the freeway ramps, bridges and overpasses. In between is untreated ice. With several million people in the Metroplex, chances for trouble are innumerable.

This morning, it is 17 degrees. Respectably chilly. A sheet of ice over everything. The good news? The sun is out and temperatures are expected to get into the 40s this afternoon. Heh. This is our first serious ice storm in six years, one of the pluses of living in Texas.

I used to get out in the car in weather like this, find a deserted parking lot, and practice skids to remind myself how to react and steer. This recent bout is too short for me to do that, plus, 100 feet of ice-covered sidewalk to the car is not an encouragement. Note to self: stock some kitty litter in case of a recurrence this winter.

If one can stay home, days like yesterday are a gift--an unplanned day to do anything you want as you stay snug and warm, with an occasional hope that the icy rain falling will not accumulate on the power lines and pull them down. Not so cozy then. Yesterday was perfect.

Being a lazy person, I didn't rejoice in the opportunity to clean out my file cabinets or even write on my blog. Nope. I lounged about reading a good mystery novel and sipping strong, hot tea with a lump of sugar and a splash of milk. Ahhh.

Today things are back to normal. Or they will be in a few hours. The Fort Worth Exposition and Stock Show is going on now (an historic custom dating back to the days when winter was the only time cowboys and ranchers had to compete in the rodeo and in the livestock barns.) Since freezing, nasty weather is apt to manifest at this same time of year, episodes like the last couple of days are known in the Metroplex as "stock show weather." Remarkably, an outdoor carnival complete with rides and a Ferris wheel is a part of the show, and hearty Texas teenagers and adults will be on the rides again as soon as the ice has melted.

I have paid my dues. Every now and then, we have an unrelenting winter. I remember one where the ice and snow didn't melt for six weeks, and I would leave for work at 5:30 a.m. to avoid traffic.I could handle the ice. Finally, a morning came with heavy snow. Nine inches in a few hours. Eighteen wheelers were stalled. My boss told me to stay home. School, of course, was canceled. My son and I played and came in for hot chocolate, laughing, laughing. Another Texas gift day. I remember the next day, the weather suddenly changed, everything melted and we were back to normal.

Yes, the weather in Texas in changeable in the winter. In the summer (sigh) it simply is unrelentingly hot,hot,hot. Not even much rain for relief. Days like this will be wonderful to remember in July.

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