Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Farm Years Part 1: Minnesota Snow

In “honor” of the snow my family is getting back in Minnesota (and will soon be in Pennsylvania), I’m reposting a blog I wrote four years ago on ZenBagLady. It’s not weigh-related, but not everything I post here is, as most of you know. Hope you’re all safe from the weather, wherever you are.

March 2007

According to reports from the folks back home, southwest Minnesota is getting the kind of snow it had back in ‘81-‘82 and ‘82-‘83, what I fondly refer to as “The Farm Years.”

When Bruce and I were engaged during the ‘81-‘82 winter, I’d go out to his family farm before a blizzard hit because I didn’t want to be snowed in for three days with my grandmother and her canasta buddies in the old folks apartment complex, even though she did keep a stash of Southern Comfort in the vegetable crisper.

I loved my grandma and was grateful she let me live with her until I got married, but I took every opportunity I could to avoid watching the “Lawrence Welk Show” and living with the stifling smell of Skin So Soft.

Blizzards were – in a word – fun. While Bruce’s parents stayed on the main floor, Bruce and I took over the upstairs. We put together jigsaw puzzles, played Rook and backgammon, watched The Muppet Show and Dynasty, drank Seagram’s and 7-Up, and listened to music. It could have snowed for weeks on end and we could have cared less.

We were married in April 1982. In June I became pregnant with Carlene, making her due in March, prime blizzard month in Minnesota. We had moved to the family farm in October when his parents retired, and that year, the snow started in earnest in November. One after another the storms came, dumping two, five, 10 inches of snow at a time, and on that part of the prairie, the wind starts somewhere in the middle of South Dakota and doesn’t stop until Wisconsin. It was a mess.

Carlene’s was a complicated pregnancy. Doc Strand referred me to a specialist in Sioux Falls, 40 miles away. That was all good and fine when the roads were clear, but it wasn’t going to do me a lick of good during a blizzard. Even the nearest hospital 11 miles away would prove as futile to get to as Sioux Falls when the snow fell and the wind blew. So good old Doc Strand came up with a plan. If I went into labor during a snowstorm and if Bruce could get me to town, he’d do his best to deliver our baby in his office.

That offered me a little comfort, but I knew the only way I was going to get to town, or even to the end of our half-mile driveway, was in a tractor. At least our International Harvester had an enclosed cab, but getting into it when you’re nine months pregnant would be no easy feat.

Gone were the days and nights of blizzard bliss. Before bed, I’d look out the front door window. If I could see the neighbor’s yard light three-quarters mile away, I knew the snow and wind weren’t too bad and I could make it to town if I went into labor. If I couldn’t, I spent most of the night curled up in a ball in a chair reading, trying to keep my mind off the weather.

The forecast looked good the week before Carlene’s due date, so I decided to do everything I could to go into labor.

There were dozens of empty 50-pound feed pellet bags piled up in the silo room, so one day I hauled them to the burn barrel and burned every last one of them. It took hours. I was exhausted. That night, my uterus cramped like a Charlie horse. ‘Ah ha,’ I thought. ‘I’ll be in labor by morning.’ No such luck.

I moved on to Plan B: sex. That didn’t work. Plan C: driving on the washboard country roads for an hour. Zip. I had a doctor’s appointment on my due date, the day before another snowstorm was forecasted, so I planned to ask my doctor what else I could do to get this kid out before I worried myself to death.

Before I could ask, the doctor said Carlene had been in there long enough and that come hell or high water (or blizzard, as was the case), she was going to be born the next day. And she was, with a little help from pitocin (the most godawful drug ever invented, but that’s a totally different blog for another day).

The snow came and went several more times in those 11 days before Bruce died, but it was beautiful and comforting and I was the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.

Stay safe if you’re encountering bad weather these days, but try to enjoy it. Read a little, drink a little, fool around a little. Make some good memories.

4 comments:

  1. Hi Lynn,
    This is coming from southeastern Minnesota, smack in the middle of a whopping bizzard. The wind is howling outside, highways are closed, and snow is piling up faster than my husband can plow it.

    When you described your winter experiences in the land of ice and snow, it was apparent that you knew what you were talking about. Your descriptions were the real thing.

    I hope you folks in Pennsylvania won't get the full brunt. Tomorrow we're scheduled to go to Disney on Ice at the Exel with two of our kids, their spouses and 5 of our grandkids, but it's not looking too promising. I still have my fingers crossed, but the 85 mile trek on Hwy 52 might not be possible tomorrow morning

    Ahhh, such is life. There's always the Vikings game (but the Giants are stuck in Kansas City) and old movies on TV. A rather nice way to spend a snowy Sunday. Stay warm.

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  2. What a beautiful story! Your writing touches me. Like all thing in life, being snowed in can be a blessing or a curse. It depends on one's situation and perspective. As I sit here in Alaska, I am so grateful for our snow. It makes everything white and beautiful, as with our terribly short days the dark reigns, otherwise. Again, I loved your vignette. It brought tears to my eyes.

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  3. What a sweet story.

    And one January I was looking for someone with a trampoline and/or snow mobile to bounce out a very overdue baby. . .

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  4. I love the way you tell a story. I feel like I was there...and now I need a mug of hot tea to warm up after the blizzard!

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