This week the weather is reasonable, you can sit down and have a conversation with it. The snow dumped along the shoulders and medians has grown stale and dirty, and is generally disregarded, as people flash by in their cars with ease. The city streets are wet but clear. The arctic beast has been vanquished. But our neighborhood is like some Alaskan outpost, still shivering. The road in front of our house remains packed with snow. Like children, we keep waiting for the plows to come, but they've forgotten us. The single digit temperatures last week kept the snow hard and smooth, but now that it's warming up, the snow has softened into thick piles that catch your car tires and swish you around. When two cars approach each other, one waits nervously while the other car fishtails past.
Our driveway is banked with treacherous ridges of frozen snow. Last Thursday, as the arctic beast was huffing its cold breath from the sky, I backed into one of those ridges and got the car stuck up to its belly. Lilah and I had just returned from a long, dizzying trip through the dress racks at JCPenney to find her a dress to wear to her friend's bat mitzvah. After much shoveling and grimacing, ice sneaking into our gloves, Roger and I were greeted by a buff neighbor, who got behind the car with Roger and pushed while I gunned the gas pedal. The ground stank of hot rubber, but our car lurched free.
The bat mitzvah happened Saturday night, on the coldest night of all. I dropped Lilah off at the dance, held inside an old movie theater. The marquee read "Margo's Bat Mitzvah." Back at home, I walked the dog. My butt still ached from sledding the week before. So I was trying not to lose my footing as we went down a particularly slick street. But then Cheri saw something, jerked to go after it, and her pink leather collar, which had been getting threadbare, snapped in two. She tore off and I fell right on my moons. I got up and walked stiffly, trying not to shake or rattle my aggrieved hiney, which was impossible. I called Cheri, but she was in a state of revelry, bounding about the smells and objects in other people's yards. My hands stung with cold, so I went home to warm them before trying to reclaim her. I found some wooly socks to put over my gloves, and I put on my plum London Fog jacket, wearing it over my pea coat. I’d found the jacket for a song at the thrift store. I trudged back up the street, sore glutes and all, waving a cold hot dog and calling for Cheri.
That night, safe at home and bedded down in her crate, Cheri was more restless than usual. Usually she sleeps like a curled up rock, but she kept rustling around and sitting up. Then came a retched hacking wet sound from her throat and she threw up. She did this several times throughout the course of the night. Some godawful thing she ate while she was off the chain. I stepped out onto the frigid porch to toss the mound of barf under the bushes. Roger washed the bottom of the crate. I stuffed her dirty bedding in the washer, and left it there til morning. Washed my hands. But a few hours later, the water in the same faucet didn't flow, and we discovered that our pipes had frozen. We’d opened up the cupboards, but forgot to keep the water dripping. So Roger spent two hours under the house, trying to the thaw the pipe with a blowdryer, while I took Lilah to her indoor soccer game.
The pipes didn't burst, at least, and by 1:00 in the afternoon, after we had bought some drinking water and formulated plans to melt snow, the blow dryer in the crawl space worked and we had water again. Which was a good thing, because by then we were all getting kind of skanky.