April 5, 2003
Tonight we turn the clocks ahead. I’m never delighted by this annual event, much preferring its “fall back” sister, when I get bonus time. I’d love to console myself with thoughts of the warm weather and spring flowers that will greet me when I get up tomorrow, taking the sting out of losing an hour, except we’re not having those things here in metro Detroit. Instead, it’s winter again.
A storm hit the northern suburbs Thursday night. Driving to work on Friday, I hit the ice line around 12 Mile Road, where the trees turned frosty. I was relieved to find that the roads continued to be just wet, since I had the wide tire, rear wheel drive Mustang because Mr. Karen needed my winter truck for a kayaking trip. I’d left early in case I needed to crawl along trying not to slide off the road, but I ended up not needing that cushion. The farther north I got, the more ice coated the world around me and the more I had to look out for fallen branches littering the streets.
I thought things would get better as the day went on; it’d warm up, the sun would come out, the ice would melt the trees I could see bent under the weight would return to their normal postures. Nope. It stayed grey and it kept raining, and the branches seemed to be bent more every time I looked; we started discussing whose vehicles were likely to get hit by falling limbs in the parking lot. Then around quarter to twelve, we heard the big pop of a transformer blowing and the lights went out. The phones still worked, though, and I’m sure you can imagine all the calls that had to be fielded, especially once it became clear that there was a problem with the power coming from the emergency generator that was supposed to be running the critical servers so our customers’ businesses wouldn’t be interrupted. Once it became clear there wasn’t anything I could do to help with that, I settled in to do some mail-in exams for continuing professional education credits. There was just enough light coming in my window for me to read the questions and fill in the answer sheets. Three hours later, I gave up. The power wasn’t coming back on anytime soon; I couldn’t do any real work, and I was freezing, because of course the heat went out with the lights. It was time to head home.
It was still raining, still cold, still grey, but at least I was getting to go home early. I finished the exam in the warmth and light of my kitchen, and I really should have just stayed there the rest of the night. Instead, I went grocery shopping. While I was distracted by picking out the best berries and bemoaning that there was only one bag of ranch flavor soy crisps left on the shelves, the rain decided to turn up the volume and turn down the temperature. By the time I wheeled my cart out of the store, it was storming for real. Oh, look, ice on the windshield, what a bonus! By the time I got all the bags loaded in the back, I was soaked and they weren’t much better. Tip: if you put wet bags into the back of a vehicle, be prepared for them to pick up every bit of dirt that’s there and transfer it to the kitchen when you bring them inside. I don’t think the kitchen counter had ever been muddy like that before.
Groceries unpacked and counter cleaned off, I went to bed, really hoping I wouldn’t wake up to the sound of one of our trees cracking under the weight of ice that I could hear plinking against the windows. Maybe that underlying anxiety is what woke me up before six– so much for sleeping in– to find I was living in a popsicle world. All the trees had frozen drips hanging from them. I was glad to see that they all appeared to be holding up well under the stress. As for me, I’m not sure I’m doing as well. I’m really ready for winter to end. I don’t want to see any more scenes like this one, no matter how picturesque, for months and months to come.