bunt sign

Monday, January 28, 2002

This never happens here, so if I get a little carried away, you might want to cut me some slack. I've lived in Santa Rosa most of my life, and never before did I wake up to find snow sticking to the ground. The twist of fate that made this happen the same day my furnace wasn't working is just the icing (so to speak) on the cake. It actually took a little of the edge off the fact that I've been freezing in my own home for the last few days. Made it seem worth it, somehow.

I'm not going to claim that this was a major snowstorm of the kind that paralyzes the east and midwest. I got up and checked it out when the clock radio came on at 7:00 am with the news. By 8:00, the sun was peeking through the clouds. By 9:00, the birds were back in the trees. By 10:00, the snow was almost gone, except for a few spots here and there.

But when I grabbed my camera, coat and shoes and opened the front door first thing this morning, it was like stepping into another world. The garden and yard were covered with white, but it was green under the eaves and beneath the oak tree. It was dark, too, and the flash didn't work very well, so I ended up with a bunch of photos that were mostly black with white spots. Never have I wished so much for a real camera. There was only so much I could do with Photoshop, and it'll never show the scene the way I saw it.

snowy garden

Just beyond the garden, you can almost make out the snow-covered garage roof.

It was also cold, but it wasn't much colder outside than it was in the house. I'd slept pretty well, but without heat I hadn't planned on getting up that early. I was going to oversleep on purpose, and not for the first time. I knew there wouldn't be any place as comfortable as my bed, but I couldn't go back after being outside in the snow, so I huddled on the couch, where I've been for most of the last four days.

I wasn't expecting any help with the furnace until my landlord got off work late this afternoon, but he showed up at my door about 11:00 this morning. He was careful to tell me he was missing a day of work to try to take care of me. I let him work on the furnace for awhile, but from the sound of things, he wasn't getting anywhere. He kept coming downstairs and shrugging his shoulders, then going out to his truck for another tool.

snowy bamboo

Snow on the heavenly bamboo, and on the bench next to it.

He asked me to try to help him see how to reconnect the wires on the electronic igniter he was replacing. He and his friend had marked the loose wires yesterday when they took out the old part, but the ink had smeared and now he couldn't tell a 5 from a 3 (as many of us can't, even on a good day). Since it was the fourth day in a row he's been here trying to fix the furnace, I wasn't holding my hopes too high.

Yes, I was. I was hoping extravagantly and irrationally. I was giddy with hope. I just knew it would happen, but when he left at 2:00 he was no closer to the answer. He left a phone number with me, of a heating specialist. There wasn't much chance he'd be free today, and when I called and talked to his wife she wasn't encouraging. But I whined a little and sweet-talked a little, and she said that maybe her husband would finish his last call in time to get to my house today. Even the thought that this might happen, however improbable, boosted my hopes.

snowy yard

The yard beyond the garden is covered, even if you can't tell from this.

Imagine my astonishment when the heating guy's wife called me again at 4:00 and said her husband would be here, at my very cold house, in half an hour. Now all I needed was to know what to tell him. I wasn't sure if I could just point him to the furnace and keep on hoping. I wished I'd paid more attention to what the landlord was doing. He had tried to explain some of it to me, but I don't really get mechanical stuff. There's a thing that does this and a thing that does that, and when this or that happens, something else is supposed to do this. Or that, I don't know. One or the other, maybe both.

But my sudden run of good luck continued when the landlord showed up about ten minutes before my new best friend the heating guy. After half an hour, during which I stood under one of the vents and yelled, "It's not hot yet" a few times, we were almost there. He still had to fix the new thermostat that my ever-helpful landlord had bought for me and then wired precisely backward when he installed it.

During this last half hour I also stood at the window and watched garbanzo-sized hail fall in my yard. This was the last reminder I needed that a working furnace isn't a luxury. But before it was even dark outside they finished and left me alone with hot air blowing through the house. Within an hour, it was dark and cold, but only out there, not in here.

So now, let it snow! In fact, we're being told to expect more of it tonight. Petaluma got three inches last night and closed schools today. Occidental, off to the west, had four inches. I don't know how much we got here, but it was enough to start my day in the realm of fantasy. I'm just glad I ended the day back in the real world.

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You think this life would make me bolder
But I'm running scared is all.