Whenever I think about ice storms, I flash back to an unusual experience I had with one.
My boss had sent me home from the part-time retail job I’d held as a grad student, worried that I might get caught in the storm. It was raining, hard, but New England folks don’t tend to get time off when it rains in the winter, so I was completely confused. I didn’t have a TV, we were about a decade away from smartphones, and I had no idea what he was talking about.
Still, I wasn’t about to miss a chance for a surprise day off, so I drove home in the rain. Turns out that my roommate had also been sent home from her gig. We decided, like all sensible young people in New Hampshire, that a surprise not-snow day called for beers. Into the car we went, driving down Packers Falls Road in Newmarket, headed toward Durham and the supermarket.
We got about three quarters of a mile down the road when suddenly we passed into another universe—one with tree branches littered the road, which had transformed into a skating rink, and the few cars on it had spun out along its sides. We skidded to a stop, too, unable to speak for a moment.
Where were we? What the hell had happened?
My roommate managed to back up enough to get us out of the ice, and we turned around and headed back to our own timeline (and to the convenience store, because beers were definitely required now). It rained all night. We woke up the next day to find out that we both had another day off. We’d bought extra beer.
The Ice Storm of 1998
The Ice Storm of 1998 was one of the most destructive storms to ever take place in Northern New England, northern New York, and Southeastern Canada. Millions were left without power, and the storm did billions in damage. A friend of my parents stayed with them after getting stuck trying to get home just one town over, which turned out to be one of the hardest hit areas.
Everywhere, brilliant destruction
Two days after the storm had passed, I had plans to visit a friend about an hour northwest. I probably shouldn’t have gone, but the roads were reasonably passable by then, and I was young, so I went. Once again, I traveled to another universe, one with brilliant January sun shining on trees and stone walls encased in clear amber. I rolled down the window and listened to the clinking, twinkling branches in the wind. It had snowed before the ice storm, and so the fields were blinding white. Everywhere, brilliant destruction.
When I arrived back home the next morning, I returned to frozen, muddy, bare ground.
Another, milder, storm
On Friday, we had a milder freezing rain storm, one that hampered my plans to get back outside after a week of pain. Still, the sun had come out enough Saturday afternoon that Ollie and I ventured out. I caught a glimpse of that other beautiful, destructive universe and heard the breaking glass in my mind.
Gallery: Ice Storms
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