The annual Yuletide ice storm came a little early this season. Last Friday much of the State was greeted by scenes such as the above as we were socked by another winter storm. Northwest Arkansas got a bunch of snow, here in the rest of the State we got ice. Which is the worst.
But we got lucky for once. The robo-call from Entergy last Thursday warned me to prepare for power outages lasting 5-7 days. Which made me want to catch the first thing smoking to Santa Fe or someplace equally dry. But even if I were to seriously give in to that, air travel was screwed, blued and tattooed across the West and Midwest due to what the National Weather Service euphemistically refers to as "disturbances."
Even after the dreadful Christmas of last year, it was hard to take such warnings of dire weather seriously. After all, I went for a walk with a neighbor Wednesday night. It was almost 80 and we were in shorts and shirtsleeves. The next evening I heard thunder.
Thunder in December in Little Rock is never good.
But like I said, we dodged a bullet. The temps were cold enough that we got sleet instead of freezing rain which is a "pick your poison" kind of a deal. Sleet makes the roads impassable which is a pain, especially now that we are into Day 3. Freezing rain takes down power lines.
So we had very few outages here in Pulaski County. Which is good as this meant that the basic comforts of life, namely heat and the Internet, were still obtainable. Though the area churches are mostly closed today, I have cable TV so I have access to televangelists to sustain me at this hour.
And, unlike many people who inexplicably wait until the last minute to acquire provisions,, I had gone to the grocery store and the liquor store last Tuesday or so. So I have enough groceries to last me into next week. Along about that time I went to the hardware store and bought 2 bags of ice melt crystals and 3 cans of windshield de-icer. I could probably auction them off right now.
Pain in the ass that this is, it has been nice to catch up on my reading. I've been getting calls and text messages from all over the place and that has been fun. My friends and I do running checks on each other. So far so good. Nobody has fallen or gotten a heart attack. Or lost a bunch of money on college football. That I have heard of.
We are all inconvenienced. But that's all we are. As long as we are inside our cozy homes we are allowed the luxury of forgetting how bitterly cold it is. And how dangerous it is.
I am the son of a Hoosier. My father believed that you have to de-ice a car at your earliest convenience. So I cleared a path to my vehicle with the ice-melt stuff. I fired it up and cranked up the defrosters. I sprayed the windshields. And I froze my ass off.
And it occurred to me at that time that this sort of thing is not completely necessary. Buck Bowen did not live long enough to see fuel injected engines or reliable batteries. There is little likelihood of water freezing up a fuel line as the gas we buy now is better. And unlike my father, I do not buy Chrysler products with their notoriously balky starters that I can't imagine that Chrysler has gotten around to fixing. But I can't help myself. I am the son of a Midwesterner. I de-ice the car.
I was outside for about an hour. It took me another hour and two cups of hot tea before I quit shivering. I thought of the man in the tent.
A lady walking her dog spotted a tent on the North slope in Knoop Park the other day. Another witness thought he saw a man living down there. Guys from the Park Department went down there to roust him but found nobody there.
I know that you can't have people camping in the city parks. I get that. But what a symbol of our society's inability to cope with the problem of homelessness, mental illness and grinding poverty.
Cold doesn't much bother me. And yet I could barely handle an hour of exposure to the bitter cold we are currently experiencing.
I am merely inconvenienced. The man in the tent may be dead.
I am blessed. I am fortunate. I have nothing to complain about.
And if you can read this, neither do you.