Thursday, December 9, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrr..............It's Been Cold!

The night before last, the mercury dipped to 12°F/-11 °C! I was looking at pictures of Caroline's neighborhood on her blog, and also reading on the web, that Scotland had to call out the Army to help clear the roads of the copious snows that have been blanketing them! My first impression was, "There, but for the mercy of Mother Nature go I". With weather this cold, all it takes to bury us in six inches to a foot or more of snow, is a random nor'easter sliding up the east coast, and pulling in Atlantic moisture. A massive low pressure system in the northeast is already wrapping around the Great Lakes, pulling moisture out of them, and blanketing adjacent states with what is known here as "lake effect snow". After a brief respite from frigid temperatures this weekend, the forecast is calling for more arctic weather next week. While sub freezing temperatures are by no means unknown in these parts, the mid-Atlantic states are generally known for their mild winters, with average daytime temperatures a good 20° F higher than what we've been experiencing.

I once had a neighbor years ago when I lived back in town, who had a house full if cats. She had no job at all. She also had no water, no electricity, and no heat, other than from what she could burn in her coal fireplace. I would occasionally leave her a bag of coal, so she could have a nights fire, but I'm sure she had burned most if not all of the furniture in her house, and anything else that was flammable.

I used to pass by her house at night, on my walks to the local grocery store. I could see her through her uncurtained windows, some of her cats sleeping on the window sills, and others walking about the table where she would sit, surrounded by stacks of old newspapers, while reading by candlelight in her darkened house, that she had inherited from her father years earlier.

Her name was Grace, and she was a neighborhood fixture, often coming up to you as you walked down the street, and asking if you could spare a few dollars. I always gave her something. She was very well informed from all of the reading that she did, and you could actually have some interesting conversations with her about politics and current events, but she was also quite mad. One day while walking down the street, a friend and I ran into Grace, and she immediately began asking us if we had heard about the alien women, who were seducing young earth males, and then eating them, once they had them in their clutches! My friend and I laughed all the way home after that one.

One year as Christmas approached, my heart felt heavy for Grace being all alone. She had no family, so I knew that no one was going to be giving her anything for Christmas, so I bought her one of those Wisconsin samplers. You've all seen them. They're the ones with the variety of cheeses, ham, summer sausage, nuts, etc. I gift wrapped it, and left it on her door step very late on Christmas Eve, with a card saying, "With love from Santa."

Grace was eventually evicted from her house, which was condemned by the city, and forced to live in an institutionalized setting that she hated. Her dilapidated house was claimed by the city for owed back taxes, and then sold on the cheap to yuppies, who fully renovated it. I never saw Grace again after that, and every Christmas I wonder how she is doing, or if she is even still alive. As for her house, it is now a glowing exhibition of bourgeois charm, but for me, that will never be as appealing, as the uncurtained, candle lit hovel, of the neighborhood cat lady.

Melissa XX


Stace said...

It's been getting warmer here - the ice is starting to dissapear and the snow is all but gone.

The salt suppler for the local councils has asked for restraint when gritting - asking it to only be used needed, and not just as a preventative measure. It must be very hard to strike the right balance between wasting salt when predicted weather doesn't hit and waiting too long with the decision and have roads already iced up and dangerous.

That's such a sad story about Grace. Though I wonder what she made of the gift from Santa :)


Caroline said...

Just for the record. It may have got down to 7 C in the kitchen, some parts of the house have to get cold so that we can have some cosy rooms in the winter. We only use candles during power cuts, don't have cats or exchange interesting news for cash handouts. In fact I gave away cash yesterday to deserving friend suffering worse than me! House may be a bit dilapidated in places, for char and because I use my cash unwisely sometimes!

Any inference that I am heading the way of the cat lady is untrue.

Caroline xxx

Two Auntees said...

Keep yourself warm, it could become a wild and cold winter. Seems every weather system is topsy turvey!

Amy K. said...

You're so kind, Melissa. I adore those samplers. She must've been thrilled! I hope she's doing okay.

Elly said...

What a touching story about Grace. We often forget that those stories are year-round and not just at Christmas.

37f this AM in South Florida-look for higher veggie prices.

Hugs, Elly

Anonymous said...

Reading your post reminded me of this song by an english band called Squeeze. Knowing how much you enjoy music I thought you might like the lyrics. the song is called labelled with love.

She unscrews the top of a new whiskey bottle
And shuffles about in her candle lit hovel,
Like some kind of witch with blue fingers in mittens
She smells like the cat and the neighbours she sickens,
The black and white t.v. has long seen a picture
The cross on the wall is a permanent fixture,
The postman delivers the final reminders
She sells off her silver and poodles in China.

Drinks to remember, I me and myself
And winds up the clock
And knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.
Helen xx

During the war time an American pilot
Made every air raid a time of excitement,
She moved to his prairie and married the Texan
She learnt from a distance how love was a lesson,
He became drinker and she became mother
She knew that one day she'd be one or the other,
He ate himself older, drunk himself dizzy
Proud of her features, she kept herself pretty.

Drinks to remember, I me and myself
And winds up the clock
And knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.

He like a cowboy died drunk in his slumber
Out on the porch in the middle of summer,
She crossed the ocean back home to her family
But they had retired to roads that were sandy,
She moved home alone without friends or relations
Lived in a world full of age reservation,
On moth eaten armchairs she'd say that she'd sod all
The friends who had left her to drink from the bottle .

Drinks to remember, I me and myself
And winds up the clock
And knocks dust from the shelf
Home is a love that I miss very much
So the past has been bottled and labelled with love.
The past has been bottled and labelled with love.
The past - has been bottled and labelled with love.

Calie said...

You know what, Melissa? You're just a softy-sweetie! I bet Grace just loved I bet Grace just loved that gift from Santa.

Calie xxx