Surviving cold and rolling blackouts
Laugh Tracks in the Dust, Damphewmore Acres, Kan.
I can’t recall such a long stretch of frigid winter weather in Kansas — complete with sub-zero temperatures, some snow and lots of wind — since I wuz in elementary school, way-y-y back in the 1940s and 50s.
It’s possible that my memory is faulty, but I know beyond a doubt that the last two weeks of icy weather is close to my critical breaking point.
For instance, this morning it wuz minus 15 degrees when I got up. But that wasn’t the worst of it — the electricity wuz off for one of the “rolling blackouts” that our rural electric co-op wuz administering trying to keep its entire electrical grid from imploding.
The blackout today lasted three hours and our home got down to 60 degrees before the furnace kicked back on. Yesterday, the first blackout lasted just over half an hour.
Getting anywhere on our country roads is an adventure that could cost you your life if it happens to go bad. Some of the roads are drifted a bit. They all are icy and slick. Just driving on them reminded me of a poem about rural roads that I penned 20 years ago.
So, I thought it wuz an appropriate time to add a verse or two and let you readers enjoy it again — and, perhaps, empathize a bit. Here it is:
THE “OTHER” SIDE OF COUNTRY ROADS
Poets have long extolled the virtues of country roads,
Meandering through the countryside, past scenic farm abodes.
Ablaze in autumn splendor; aglow in spring’s new green;
Verdant with their summer crops; Glittering in winter’s icy sheen.
But there’s another side of country roads, that never gets its say,
That’s familiar just to rural folks, who drive them every day.
Who beat their cars and pickup trucks to weathered piles of junk,
By piling up the untold miles, through chug holes, rocks ‘n gunk.
In spring and fall a country road, turns into a sea of muck,
Greasy, slick, ‘n full of ruts, from stock trailers and trucks.
A slimy ribbon set to trap, the poor as well as rich,
Who lose control and slide into, the waiting roadside ditch.
In summer a quiet country road becomes a choking cloud,
That makes a quiet country girl learn to cuss out loud.
As traffic pulverizes stone and every speeding Chevrolet
Stirs a dusty plume that turns her laundry dingy gray.
You cannot breathe. You cannot see. The dust is everywhere.
It’s in your eyes. It’s in your lungs and certainly in your hair.
The dusty fog hangs like an opaque cloud, in particles so fine,
That every time you head to town, your life’s right on the line.
In winter that scenic country road fills up with dust-laced snow
That drifts it shut, ditch to ditch, when blizzards start to blow.
Out comes farmer and tractor, front-end loader, back-end blade.
A makeshift agrarian snowplow battling Nature’s icy blockade.
Pushing, lifting, plowing snow, he spends the lifelong day,
Opening up a mile of road, to take his cows some hay.
When night falls, he heads into the house, dead tired on his butt.
To find at dawn, a strong north wind’s blown the damned road shut.
Some country roads run straight and true; boring as can be.
You’ll go to sleep, self-hypnotized, with nothing there to see.
But other country roads are crooked — enough to give you frights.
You can actually run your battery down, honkin’ at your own tail lights.
So wax no more nostalgic, about country roads idyllic.
Those poetic well-turned phrases just make a farmer sick.
A road is not a Pastoral Pathway, because a farmer knows deep down,
A country road is nothing more — than a Miserable Way To Town.
A couple of obscure notes from the news. I see Bill Gates, the largest farmland owner in the U.S. opines that to fight climate change and global warming all “rich” nations should go to 100% fake meat as quickly as possible. Thanks, Bill?
The other news item: Some folks in New York have “constructed” a 1,400-square-foot home on a slab using nuthin’ but a huge three-dimensional printer. Took ‘em 48 hours to “print” the new home.
My words of wisdom for the week: Where is global warming when you really need it? Have a good ‘un.
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