This project started three weeks ago and has dragged on a la the baby journal Dave Berry talked about in “Babies and Other Hazards of Sex.” There’s an entry every day — sometimes several times a day — for the first couple of weeks of baby’s life, from descriptions of spit-ups and “diaper bombs” to a variety of mind-boggling observations. Then there’s nothing until, “Timmy started second grade today.”
Considering that I’m no Dave Berry and that the grand total readership of Jackson’s Journal is somewhere between three to five people, maybe it’s time to steam on through the rest of my Top 10 lifetime weather events.
Christmas Eve/Christmas Day 1983, Deep Freeze …
This is the first of three of my Top 10 that occurred in a span of 145 days from December 1983 to April 1984. A number of factors converged to make these weather events especially memorable. For starters, I was writing about them at the time as editor of The Belle Banner and The Bland Courier, two of three weekly newspapers published every Wednesday by Tri-County Publications.
Secondly, Kelly and I had been married only 16 months when we had the opportunity to land a job as caretakers of a 450-acre cattle farm in very rural Gasconade County. Pine Corners was located off Elk Head Road. I’m convinced that the fences, gates, barns and outbuildings — and the very house we got in live in at no charge in exchange for our caretaking duties — was held together by a single piece of wire or binder twin. Untying the right piece of twine, which was used to hold up or hold together everything on the farm, would have caused the entire property to collapse into itself.
Or so it seemed.
More than anything else, at Pine Corners we were at the mercy of the weather. And beginning around mid-December 1983, the weather was unmerciful.
For eight days out of nine, the low temperature was below zero. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were especially frigid. The high on Dec. 24 was minus 7; the low was 11-below. With wind gusts up to 35 mph, the wind chill was between 40 and 50 below zero. The low Christmas night was minus 15, with more gusts.
The first of three never-to-be-forgotten weather events in our short time at Pine Corners was bone-chilling. The old farmhouse had what seemed like paper-thin (and uninsulated) walls. We burned through 500 gallons of LP gas in the propane tank in less than 10 days. If not for the pot-bellied wood stove that practically glowed red-hot — what kept that cast-iron beast from burning down the house, we’ll never know — kept us from freezing.