Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 18, 2014

NOT THAT YOU ASKED, BUT...: When it snows, bring on the neighbor kids

Goshen News

---- — As I sit here writing this column, snow is swirling outside my window. More snow. Seriously? We have had more winter these first weeks of 2014 than we’ve had in the last couple of years throughout the entire season, I think. And I am ready to become a snowbird.

I hear some of the readers thinking, “It’s winter and it’s northern Indiana, that’s what we expect so I should quit my whining.” But whining makes you feel better sometimes, OK?

I used to love winter storms when I was a little girl and it meant snow days off of school and snow angels and snowmen and being Queen of the Mountain of snow piled on the sidewalks.

I stopped being a fan of winter when I moved to the Midwest and dealt with subzero regular temperatures and wind chills that no human should have to endure. I stopped being a fan when it meant I had to drive in it, feeling like I was risking my life.

The good thing about working from home is that, just like now, I can be working and watching the snow outside my window and not have to go and drive in it. Sometimes I do, though, to cover meetings, to do interviews, to demonstrate my products for my candle business.

And it’s sometimes hard to make the call as to whether you go, or you reschedule. So when Winter Storm Ion hit in the first week of the New Year, I was trying to determine whether to carry on with a small group meeting at church that was planned. I really didn’t want to cancel it because we were also planning for a women’s retreat this weekend and time was running short.

I am a winter wimp so I was trying to be adult, responsible and objective in making the decision. So I told some people that I would base my decision on this criteria: If churches, libraries and colleges started closing, I would cancel.

One thing I’ve noted over the years is when libraries and colleges close due to weather, you should not be out on the roads. They do not close at the drop of 6 to 8 inches.

Sure enough, those criteria were met and I had to cancel. But aha! Inspiration struck and we held a conference call instead. I was also binge-watching The Weather Channel to make that decision and that’s when I discovered that the storm was named Winter Storm Ion.

“Huh?” I said to myself. “When the heck did we start naming winter storms?”

Apparently prior to this one there was Winter Storm Hercules. Our meteorologists never mentioned the name so I guess it hasn’t completely caught on yet, but I was surprised by that discovery.

And then of course, there was the polar vortex that made my cousins in Texas get out their woolen socks as the temperatures there dropped to 28.

It was amazing to see how much of the country was involved in the below freezing temperatures. Of course we had subzero temps and 45 degrees below zero wind chills so they still don’t know what it’s really like to be cold!

I was literally snowbound for a few days and I was OK with that. I started to get some paperwork done but still didn’t accomplish as much as I would have liked. I was amazing (and worrying) my friends across the country with my Facebook pictures of nearly two feet of snow piled on my decks. My snow plow guy was having issues with his snowplow so he couldn’t come plow me out. And with my bad back, I cannot shovel it myself.

My neighbors came to the rescue once again as I at first had a little band of neighbor kids from next door and across the street who teamed up to shovel the drive before the worst of it hit. Afterward with the 45 below temps, and the knee-high drifts I felt it was too much to expect anyone to shovel. But sure enough, Dad and the kids next door were back in a day or so. I opened the door and told them not to worry about it — it was way too cold. But Dad said the kids wanted to get out and come do it.

I so appreciate their help. You can’t imagine what a blessing it is. But with my imagination being what it is, it all of a sudden dawned on me — I have become the old neighbor lady that the neighborhood kids help!

We had one when I was a kid. It was the mom of my oldest brother’s friend. She lived down the block and was a widow. I don’t know what her health issue was that she couldn’t get out and about, but we used to go pick up some groceries for her every once in a while. It was a generation thing, too. My brothers helped her and then my sister did and then I inherited her when my sister became too busy of a teenager (chasing boys) to worry about Mrs. C.

I can’t remember her name right now, so we’ll call her Mrs. C. She was a very sweet Italian woman. She always dressed in black and I never saw beyond her front door in the alleyway apartment she lived in. She would come to the door and she had this tiny black coin purse that she’d have her list and the money in for us to go do her shopping at the corner grocery store. She’d always give us a little tip when we came back.

I often wonder what happened to her when I became too busy of a teenager (chasing boys) to take the time to help and didn’t have a younger sibling to pass her on to. I hope someone picked up my slack. But hmmm, I might need to get me a little black coin purse.

Denise Fedorow is a correspondent and columnist with the Goshen News. Her column appears every other week. She hopes that others are as fortunate as she is to have great neighbors of more than one generation to look out for them.