Throughout the day winds howled as an ice monster crept over the town, his goal, to flash freeze everything living and lock us all in houses where our illusion of safety would be challenged by falling trees, downed power lines and out-of-control fires which firemen couldn’t reach. Between the ho, ho, ho of jolly Christmas songs, we heard horror story after horror story over the radio, pleas from officials to stay off the roads which were basically ice skating rinks where out of control big rigs jack knifed and children died.
Christmas Eve the Ice Monster still controlled the town. Family managed to get through on the phone, disappointed we hadn’t gotten the packages they’d sent. But there was no mail delivery service in Greenwood. Just a tiny one-room post office two blocks away where you went to “call on” your mail and neither Jo or I had had the strength to walk down there, if indeed, it was even open. Outside trees bend to the ground as though begging for mercy. I watched as Christmas lights on the houses across the road flickered on and off, reflecting in the icy shrouds of the prostrate trees. It was horrible but beautiful. Finally the radio died, as did the lights. We sat in candlelight and wondered what horror the morning would bring.
Christmas morning the sun burned through the ice-encrusted windows and into our shack. The ice acted like a prism, sending all colors of the rainbow magically spinning through the room as the winds outside whispered gently – the ice monster has moved on.
“I’m hungry.” For the first time in days I’d woken with a growling belly and not a headache.
“Hot damn! So am I!” Jo was already scrounging for something to eat in the nook of the room that served as a kitchen. “Look what I found! A bran muffin mix and it only needs water. Good thing cause we bloody well don’t have anything else.” She turned on the water but nothing came out. “Whelp, no water either! The pipes are frozen!”
Ever inventive she soon had a plan.
“I thought we weren’t supposed to drink melted ice.” I said as she melted one of the icicles hanging from the eaves in a pot set on the wood stove.
“Why the hell not?”
I had no idea why the hell not and so I just watched as she whipped up the bran muffins.
Then she scoured the barren cabinets for something else to eat. “Hot cider mix! I do declare, we’re in for a real feast now.”
I can still remember children shrieking as they sledded down the closed roads, the hot apple cider and bran muffins tasting better than any gourmet meal I’d ever had and the sheer joy of being alive.
By early afternoon the power came back on. We fired up the record player and danced to Country Joe and the Fish.
As we danced around the room with the music on full blast, the townsfolk walking past and hearing the unholy ruckus, shook their heads, “Dem dam hippies sure are crazy.”
I doubt this Christmas story will ever make it to the Hallmark Channel but it’s my favorite memory of the season. Be safe y’all.