The Big Storm has come and gone. How’d you fare?
I got through it, although there were some sticky moments.
You know, before this “storm,” I felt all arrogant and smug about my ability to handle snow, sleet, rain, ice, tornadoes and whatever else Mother Nature whips up and sends our way. I grew up on that stuff in the Midwest. They don’t call us “hearty” for nothin’.
So I laughed when I opened the paper Friday, Jan. 6, to read The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s big, bold headline: “ARE WE READY?” Up to 4 inches of snow was expected, and we’re on high alert?
Granted, the city still seems to be suffering from collective trauma. I’ve heard the war stories of Snowmageddon. Atlantans can recount exactly where they were on Jan. 29, 2014, when the storm hit. And I mean exactly. These stories take at least 30 minutes to tell because they are full of riveting details about traffic hitting a gridlock, folks abandoning their cars on the highway and trekking miles to get home. Kids stuck at school. Office workers sleeping under desks. Home Depot opening its doors to provide overnight shelter.
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All those survival tales are why I was secretly excited to experience my first big Atlanta winter storm. Not the traffic or the trekking miles on foot, mind you, but the hunkering down side of things.
And the romantic side: thick snowflakes that fall silently in the dark to create a brilliant white wonderland come morning; iced-over window panes; bundling up in hats, mittens, scarves and boots; snow forts and snowball fights; making snowmen; sledding; sipping hot cocoa with marshmallows, a treat you earn after you’ve shoveled the driveway because your parents made you. Oh, and don’t forget the roaring fire in the fireplace.
OK, we have no fireplace in our home, but still — bring on the snow!
Well, I got my first Atlanta winter storm. It didn’t quite turn out as I’d imagined. I was ill-prepared, especially on the food side.
Here’s how it went down:
Thursday, 4 p.m.: Realize that we have no loaf bread for my son’s school lunch the next day. Drive to the grocery store. Notice that everyone else is buying bread, too. Run a mental checklist of what else we need to replenish. Buy milk. Notice that everyone else is buying milk, too. Buy grapefruit. Notice that no one else is buying grapefruit, but that the beer and wine aisles are pretty crowded.
Thursday, 6 p.m.: Open an email from my son’s high school announcing that Friday will be a half day of school. All classes will be 22 minutes, with school dismissing at 12:11 p.m. “Really?” says son. Husband remarks that the class length is as long as a TED Talk. We all agree that you can learn a lot from a TED Talk.
Friday, 5 p.m.: No snow yet, but “it’s coming, it’s coming,” all the reports tell us. Start cooking a celebratory meal of shrimp scampi with fettuccine. Realize there’s not enough fettucine to feed three. Fettuccine and spaghetti: genius! Snap a photo and post it on Instagram. Think about how resourceful we can be in these unprecedented times.
Friday, 8 p.m.: Movie time. “The Returned” comes up on Netflix as a series that our household of “Stranger Things” watchers would enjoy. Husband sets up Chromecast. I get out the air popper only to find that we’re out of popcorn. I curse my lax grocery list-writing of late and dump together a sorry, salty bowl of Pringles, crackers and mixed nuts without peanuts in the mix. What’s a nut mix without peanuts? Did I buy that? The snack feels as empty as diet soda.
Saturday, 6:30 a.m.: Peek out window to see a dusting of snow on the grass and ice covering everything else. Declare it a baking morning and preheat the oven.
Saturday, 6:45 a.m.: Realize we’re out of coffee. Husband assumes hunter-provider role and jogs on icy sidewalks to Publix.
Saturday, 7 a.m.: Make batter for lemon poppy seed muffins. Realize we have no fresh lemons and use jarred lemon juice instead. Realize we left the lime tree outside overnight. Pluck the remaining limes from the tree and start zesting the frozen fruit. Pour batter into mini muffin and mini loaf tins in honor of the mini snowstorm.
Saturday, 8 a.m.: Set up a mini photo shoot of mini muffins and post it on Instagram. Scroll through feed and suffer from a bout of Instagram envy. Everyone’s storm food looks fancier than mine. Silently curse them. Long to eat perfect food at their perfect houses.
Saturday, 9 a.m.: Thermostat fails. Husband says that we have a problem. I’m too busy thinking about my Instagram failures to worry about heat.
Saturday, 11 a.m.: Decide that lemon poppy seed muffins are not exciting enough. Start making falafel. Coriander seed is key for this, and the jar is empty. Grab grains of paradise and grind it harder than necessary with the pestle. Falafel photos turn out subpar and are not posted to Instagram. No one else but me in this house even likes falafel.
Saturday, 1 p.m.: Thermostat still out. Grab all the snuggly blankets and retreat to bedroom for a nap.
Saturday, 2 p.m.: Husband says it might be 24 hours before the service people can come and restore the heat. Feel colder. Rummage through the pantry for herbal tea. Zip. None. Nada. Sip hot water while cursing the grocery list.
Saturday, 3 p.m.: Verbalize how cold I feel. Husband reminds me that I said I’d go on a jog. Put on winter superhero sports gear (read: thermal underwear and balaclava winter face mask) and start running. Pass by Publix and experience a flashback of last night’s popcorn letdown. Go inside. The only popcorn left on the shelf is a family-size jar of Orville Redenbacher’s that costs more than the $5 emergency money in my pocket. Spend the rest of the jog trying to recall whether the popcorn aisle was a high-traffic zone during yesterday’s bread run.
Saturday, 7 p.m.: Meet up with friends at a restaurant. Give thanks for the warm dining room — and the space heater our friends let us borrow.
Sunday, all day: Sit next to space heater. Drink hot water and pretend it’s herbal tea. Eat lemon poppy seed muffins and falafel. Write a lengthy grocery list.
Sunday, 4 p.m.: Service guy arrives and solves the case of the frozen copper line in 5 minutes. Heat restored.
Two weeks later: Ego still damaged.