The Blizzard of 2016

Richard BradyRichard Brady
A snowy surf’s up: The scene at Richard Brady’s place during the storm.

Well, we can’t say they didn’t warn us. I checked my favorite weather site on Monday before the storm, and they were already talking about a significant weather event for Friday and Saturday. As I write this, it’s about midday on Saturday. Just judging by what is on the picnic table out the window, it looks like we already have about two feet of snow. But, the wind is blowing so hard and getting worse, that I can’t tell if some of that is drifted snow.

My bride stuck her head out the garage door, and some places on the driveway where the wind had swept the snow away, she put out some birdfeed. From the looks of things, they really appreciated it.

Yesterday, before it started snowing, I did all the last minute chores I could think of, like putting the little generator in the garage and rounding up some gas and extension cords. I got in as much wood as I could get in the wood box in the basement and took some to my daughter, just in case the power went out. My bride filled up every container she could find with water, including the bathtub, and made chicken rice soup and potato soup. Last night for dinner, we baked a bunch of extra potatoes.

You might remember the Grand Ole Opry star Little Jimmy Dickens singing, “Take an Old Cold ‘Tater and Wait.” Fact is, if we don’t have any power, an old cold tater with some butter, salt and pepper might taste pretty good. As my dad used to say, “It will be better than eating a snowball.”

After most of the last minute chores were done, I decided I needed to do something to clear my head, and prepare myself for a few days of misery or boredom or both.  I walked around in the woods for a couple hours, hoping I might scare up a squirrel or two, but the ground was frozen so hard it was like walking on six inches of corn flakes. The squirrels could probably hear me coming for half a mile, and they stayed safe and snug in their hidey-holes. I didn’t see a one.

By the time I got back to the house, about noon, the snow was coming down pretty good, and I don’t think one flake melted except on the main roads where VDOT had spread some liquid salt. It has been snowing now for about 24 hours and I don’t think I could get down the driveway on my little tractor. I wanted to try to keep some of the snow from out of the front of the fire department, but it doesn’t look like I’ll even be able to do that. I have not seen one vehicle, snow plow or otherwise, go down the road all morning. I guess they are trying to keep the main roads open. Seems like a good plan to me. I just hope the people who truly need to get out on the roads can get through, and that any emergency vehicles can get through if the need arises.

The only bright spot I can find thus far is that the news is so filled with the weather I don’t have to listen to all the talking heads carry on about the latest accusations made by one presidential hopeful or the other. But I do wish my seed catalogues had arrived before the snow.

Speaking of things to read, a friend of mine loaned me a book that I would like to tell you about. The book is “The Man Who Moved a Mountain.” The author is Richard C. Davids and the copyright date is 1970, by Fentress Press. I am a little surprised I haven’t come across this book before now. I thoroughly enjoy books about life in the Blue Ridge, no matter the time period.

This book is about the life of one man, Bob Childress, and the impact he had on the people and times of Buffalo Mountain. Years ago, when I made my annual pilgrimage to Galax, Va., for the old time music festival, I often stayed at Fancy Gap. I frequently stopped at a country store between Hillsville and Galax. In the back they had a wonderful little museum, dedicated to the history of the surrounding area.

Not very far from Hillsville and Fancy Gap is the area called Buffalo Mountain.  During the early life of Childress, who lived from 1890 to 1956, the biggest cash crop in this area was the making and selling of illegal whiskey and it seemed that every week or so someone was getting shot or cut. Into this lifestyle, Childress was born and grew up, and became determined to make a difference in the lives of the people on Buffalo Mountain. I highly recommend this book to you, especially if you enjoy stories about life in the Blue Ridge. This story is true, and I wish we had more people like Bob Childress.

Until next time, try to stay warm and dry. I am praying our newspaper doesn’t have too many stories of hardships resulting from the blizzard of 2016.  

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