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  • Writer's pictureCatherine C. Heywood

How To Prepare for a Snowstorm in the Upper Midwest

Anyone will tell you, the name of the game is to stock up. Make sure you’ve got the essentials for 48 hours. No one, not even a Minnesconnie like me, wants to be on the roads in a snowstorm.

So I hit the grocery store yesterday afternoon for food. But when I was putting them away, I dropped one somewhere in my pantry and after sifting through all my shelves and even emptying the recycling bin piece by piece—gross!—I STILL couldn’t find it.

So at 9pm last night I went to the grocery store AGAIN.

I wanted to make sure the firewood was stocked and my husband, Jeff, reassured me the boys could do it.

“They can get in?” I asked.


“It’s not locked?”


“They can carry it?” (My boys are string beans. A strong wind would snap them in half like twigs.)


Jeff has not-so-fond memories of his boyhood when he was routinely required to haul firewood to heat their home. Teddy and Abe, he insists, can do it every once in awhile.

So this morning, Jeff was gone and I sent the boys out to get firewood. Long minutes passed while I stood on the cold back steps in my pjs.

“What’s taking so long!” I finally hollered.

“We can’t get in!” they yelled back.

If I were John Krasinski in The Office, this is where I’d be smirking into the camera.

So I donned my boots and stomped out to the back shed in my pajamas, watching my oldest using a long stick to try to jig a too-tall lock open.

By the time the wood carrier was finally full of wood, they couldn’t lift it. What ensued was a scene of terse suggestions, complaints, and tears while the three of us in some makeshift choreography dragged and lifted it up to the house.

When they left for school and the house was finally quiet, the last thing I wanted to do was go out. But as it happened, the boys managed to finish the milk and bread at breakfast and these, naturally, go under the “essentials for 48 hours” list.

I wanted to remain in my loungewear, but there’s errand-wear etiquette that needs to be observed. So I grabbed my jeans and skipped the bra. It was “lerrand-wear” and a winter coat that looks like you’re wearing a sleeping bag with sleeves can cover a multitude of sins.

Back at the grocery store, I snaked up and down the parking-lot aisles, cursing to myself in the totally-made-up, alphabet soup, Upper-Midwest words we all know—“ope, for pete’s sake!” “criminy crickets!—eyeballing for an open spot in a packed lot that looked like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. When I eventually parked, I tore through the store like a sweepstakes winner only to stand in line… like the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

When I was bagging my few items, the man behind me exclaimed to the checkout woman, “This is insane!” He didn’t have the long-voweled accent of the Upper Midwest. It sounded more mid-Atlantic. In my head, I thought, “Rookie mistake, Maryland. This is common sense. You don’t want to be on the road in an hour.”

I pulled into my garage just as the first pretty flakes were starting to fall. It was then I noticed the two massive boxes stacked on my front steps. I was excited… until I tried to lift one.

Grunting and groaning and straining, I cursed Jeff in the hardcore swear words we all know and love—he accidentally bought TWO. “I’ll return one next week!” he promised happily before he left.

It took me twenty minutes, I ended up using the furniture-moving pads we use to move our piano, and my body is sore all over, but I managed to get them hidden. Merry Christmas, boys! Mommy needs physical therapy.

Eventually, I settled into my loungewear and wrapped presents. But it seems that I’m incapable of resisting the movie Stepmom. Before I knew it, I was wrapping and bawling.

The snow was coming down harder when I finally finished wrapping and wiped away my tears. Sore but satisfied, that’s when I heard that tell-tale text tone:

“Due to inclement weather forecast, school is releasing 2 hours early today.”

Cue more crying and cursing.

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