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It’s snow fun surviving a blizzard

It’s like taking photos of a polar bear on an iceberg. 

It’s snow fun surviving a blizzard 

“There was little warning that it would be so bad — that an elderly woman would burn her furniture to keep warm, that some species of birds would be nearly killed off in Ohio.  

The temperature was in the 40s the day before, and then, just like that, vehicles were stranded in snowdrifts 15 feet deep. Diesel fuel froze, so trucks couldn’t move even on clear roads. An Ohio National Guard general started out for work in the morning and he couldn’t get home for seven days.” (excerpt from Blizzard of 1978, The Columbus Dispatch)

We all seem to have that someone in our family – parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle – from that generation who lived through the Great Depression. Who comes to mind for you?  You don’t even need to hear their childhood stories to know this is true, right? They have the tell-tale habits of a survivor.  Behaviors like food squirreling and insisting on using produce days past its prime when we would just toss those limp carrots away.  They repair even the simplest of items to make it last as long as possible. Not everything goes out of style in their opinion.  This leisure suit is still perfectly fine, thank you very much, Grandpa says as he adjusts his ultra-wide necktie before Sunday Mass. Oh, did you know a plaid shirt is ok with pin-striped pants if both are in the green family? True story, but in hindsight that might have just been personal fashion sense, not a survival behavior.  My father-in-law could not be swayed otherwise, which is fine. It was just another one of the things that made him so charming, the sweet guy.

Even experiencing something as short-lived as horrendous weather can bring out subtle survivor skills in us. Nearly 34 years after Ohio’s Blizzard of  ’78, I still can’t scan a kitchen cupboard without estimating how many days of food we have in there. In a pinch those spaghetti noodles could be matched with the can of stewed tomatoes.  Things like that float through my head like wisps of smoke. I can’t not do it. We may not eat in the fancy style we’ve become accustomed to, I think, but it beats melting snow for sustenance.

The walk to the school bus was about a 9.5 on the Suck Scale.

If you read October’s ghost story post Ghosts in the Walls, this image on the left may ring a bell. The red arrow points to the foundation of the remains of my childhood home. The yellow arrow is the end of the gravel lane that meets the nearest road, a quarter mile away.

The Blizzard of ’78 was a unique weather phenomena for Ohio, holding the record for the most powerful winter storm in the history of our fine Midwestern state.

“About two or three times per winter, a low-pressure system from Mexico heads north, and at the same time, an Alberta clipper from Canada heads south. Virtually every time that happens, they miss each other. “But during the Blizzard of ’78, the storms kind of collided and they intensified each other into one massive storm,” said Jeffrey Rogers, a geography professor at Ohio State University.  “We don’t know what the odds are, but it must be extremely low,” Rogers said. “It certainly is an event that hasn’t happened since then.””  (excerpt from Blizzard of 1978, The Columbus Dispatch)

So yeah, it was weird and it was sudden. Considering the super low temps and snowdrifts measuring twice the height of cars, we had us some drama dropped into our cozy laps. We, all of Ohio, found ourselves caught totally unprepared of what we were to awake to that January morning. And the story of my family is that we were trapped far from our country road in a small farming community. Our gravel lane to freedom held possession of the highest of the snow drifts and was impassable by car or foot. So after a few days of canned soup, we packed in winter gear to trek across the frozen cornfield to meet a family friend. The country road finally snowplowed, Richard was able to meet us at the end of the lane to drive us to the IGA in town.

Pretty harsh stuff, right? Oh, there’s more y’all. My sister and I were teenagers. My brother was elementary school age. And my mom?  Mom was ready to throttle the lot of us.  Why can’t we have the Red Cross do a helicopter food drop instead, I whined as we broke new trail going back to the farmhouse. We’re PEOPLE, not beasts of burden. You know, we could all DIE out here in this field and NOBODY would find our bodies for mo. . . WAAAAH!  I trip over a frozen furrow, performing a gymnastic face plant at the same time as tossing my personal load of hard earned groceries into the snow. Mom looks back and sighs in that way she did back then and, without breaking her stride, keeps on going. And my sister was pretty much yin to my yang at this point. Any other time at each other’s throats, we now shared a common bond in that snow-covered field and so joined our forces together to create a beautiful harmony of self-centered teenage discontent and promises of weekly therapy sessions just to overcome this inconceivable hardship of our young lives.

A massive run-on sentence, that last one. But an awesome one, right?

When we all look back on difficult times as these, let’s give a special remembrance to mothers. Maybe even a special award to moms of teenage girls. Something like “Thanks for not killing us, Mom, even though you probably could have done it and gotten away with it for a few weeks at least until spring thaw.”  I don’t know. Would that even fit on a trophy?

So we got us some snow this week

Go fig. Turns out the local weather forecast was pretty spot on and we were hit with more snow on one short day than we saw all last winter. Those hours of heavy snowfall and heavy winds had all of us children of the Great Blizzard generation going on about our memories of that one historical winter storm.

And yet, it still surprises me a little to see people who live within a mile of the local Kroger go into OMG mode to hit the shelves like they’ve got an underground bunker to restock.  Hey, you know what, neighbors? I think to myself.  This ain’t nuthin’.  You wanna snowstorm? I’ll tell you about a storm. And anyway, you could walk here from your house if it came down to it.  But that’s just survivor talk. I don’t want to walk it either. But you know, I could. hahahahasnort. Just messing with y’all. We’ll be right here eating egg noodles with Pace Picante before that happens.

But in between these hard moments of survival, it’s a fine distraction to open the backdoor and let the dogs out to do their thing in the white wonder of it all.  Euka has now finally discovered that magic experience that is playing in deep snow.  So sit back, grab a warm beverage and scroll down to enjoy the innocence of dogs playing in the wintry weather. 

Because I should go now. I need to call my mom.

Euka is mastering the Look of Innocence.  She’s getting pretty good at it, too.
 What’s in your mouth now, Euka? I will ask.  Muthin’, she mumbles back.

Muthin in that mouth, you say?
Our houseguest for the week, COC Kel.
Kel and Micron set aside their mission to ignore each other for a
hearty game of Gimme Back My Friggin’ Stick.
Micron communes with the snow. He sort of made a snow angel, but
like a high pitched whistle, you’d have to be a dog to get it.
Euka keeps an assured clear distance from the big dogs to avoid
getting steamrollered. But, she insists, she is the Chaser.
She wants you to know that.
(Check out Raising a Super Dog’s FaceBook page for even more snow photos at Euka’s Snow Album.)
Are you a Blizzard of ’78 survivor too?   Share your harrowing tales of bravery in the face of snowdoom in the comments.

About Donna Black-Sword

Lover of all things Dog.

5 responses »

  1. Well Donna, I did live in Ohio for a while but not in 1978. If memory serves me correctly we were there from 1972 – 1975, we did get some good snow's while there though. We lived right outside of Columbus in the small town of Worthington. Stacey and I recently visited on our drive to Cali this past August. In 1975 we moved to Indian, about an hour south of Indianapolis in another small town, Anderson. I do remember a storm there that hit right after Christmas and kept us home from school damn near the entire month of January. 2 way roads were down to one way. The snow was piled on either side of the roads at least 10 foot and you said your prayers that no one came the other way while you went through. Then we moved back to our home town of Baltimore, Maryland in the spring of 1977. In February of 1979 we were hit with a huge Blizzard and got 23″ of the powdery stuff. Then again we were blasted in 1996. They next huge snowfall however came in 2003 with a whopping 29″ of snow. We were at a standstill for days! Our last big storm was in 2006 with snow fall of just under 3 feet.
    I for one love the white stuff and always look forward to a good snowfall. We haven't had anything to speak of in the past couple years so I think this year may be our year!
    And of course my stories would never stand up to my fathers since he walked to school up hill both ways in 2 foot of snow, lol……I do miss his stories 🙂


  2. Thanks for sharing your stories! Here in the heart of America (that's Ohio, you know) we do hear about some doozy snowstorms along the eastern states. You guys just get slammed over there, don't you? There's a few good things about Ohio. Right, not many but a few. That we don't get blasted by extreme weather on a regular basis is one of those things. So whenever we're threatened by a snowy forecast we locals tend to freak out a bit. We're kind of pansies here and it's a little embarrasing I admit.


  3. Donna, thank you so much for Euka's pictures. Seeing her grow on a regular basis is sustaining me and my husband until we get that most important “team training” phone call. Hopefully, we will get it this coming year. She makes me smile, makes me proud and makes me extremely grateful to you as a puppy raiser. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And even though we most certainly won't have the honor of having Ms. Euka as our service dog, we PROMISE to love, respect, and take care of our future service dog to the very best of our ability. Melody and Hunter (Noodies)


  4. Hi Melody, I wish the wait wasn't so long for you. I've gotten to know more about other service dog organizations over these past few years. I have complete confidence in saying that CCI is the best choice. They are worth the wait for the most important reason – they know how to make the right match of skilled service dog to the individual. Team training, support and follow-up make this organization the best in the business, I think.
    Thanks for following Euka and her E littermates. It's going to be fun to watch these young pups grow and learn.


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