We couldn’t wait to get home to Topsail Island. Being with our six kids and their spouses, two darling granddaughters and a few granddogs for the holidays had been a wonderful Christmassy dream. We loved, laughed, played hard and ate enough food to feed a platoon of hungry soldiers. Yet, after a while, Bill and I felt the tug on our hearts to head home to our refuge in Sneads Ferry, twelve hours away. We packed up the car and loaded our little Maltipoo, Bama, in the car and headed “down east” towards the Ferry, towards our Topsail Island heaven! It was December 31, and we were ready to get home to usher in the New Year.
And celebrate we did! We sang Auld Lang Syne to the old year and brought in the New Year with champagne toasts and fireworks. (The pops and booms must have been instigated by some of the neighborhood kids.) Although it was cold, we thanked God we were by our wonderful, crackling fire and not in Times Square, in single-digit cold, listening to shivering news reporters and famous people chat as they waited for the ball to drop. Even though it was cold on Topsail, it wasn’t as cold as it was in New York. Surely, this southern cold spell would pass.
Yet, it did not. Soon we started hearing warnings about a winter storm coming up the coast of the Carolinas. Of course, at this news, every resident on Topsail Island and the surrounding mainland made a visit to Food Lion or Harris Teeter to raid them of their milk and bread, beer and wine, batteries and flashlights, water and apples, crackers and cheese, firewood and toilet paper.
Yes, the whole island was in the grips of a winter weather situation and only the good Lord knew how ready we were for the first flake to fall. Mothers got out their big, mixing bowls to make snow cream, that sweet, vanilla, icy concoction their mothers had made for them once in a childhood memory. Huge pots of chicken soup and chili were gracing the stoves of almost every abode. We were ready. We were armed and we were….thrilled.
The afternoon the storm arrived, rain started falling through the cold air. As the night wore on, it became colder and before I went to bed, the rain changed to sleet, hitting against my bedroom windowpane like sand in a windstorm. Facebook lit up with my friends from the south of us: “It’s snowing here! The ground’s covered.” “Sleet is mixing with snow now.” “Look at the snow on our back deck!” Facebook was connecting the dots as the storm headed up the coast.
By eleven o’clock, it started snowing big, fluffy flakes. It stuck fast to the ice already covering the branches of our Leyland Pine trees and the icy blades of grass in the front yard. We stood and watched it fall silently outside our window, the outside Christmas lights (still up and shining brightly) casting colorful hues on the whitening world outside.
We went to bed, rejoicing that the next day would be a “snow day” and that we could laze around in our P.J.’s from dawn until evening, relishing the wonder of the frozen world outside our door. Like magic, we awakened to a silent, white atmosphere of wonder. To celebrate our beautiful world, we feasted on comfort foods and enjoyed our warm houses. I stayed in and Bill wandered outside only long enough to take Bama out to “do his business.” We were cozy, content, contained and sustained by our comfortable home and provisions.
And then, without any warning, our power went off for a few hours. It was dark and the house grew cold quickly. We covered up in blankets and quilts and tried to wait out the power outage. It was quiet except for the cracking and snapping of the ice-laden branches in the old oak tree behind the house. We rejoiced when the sudden jolt of power enabled our house to roar back to life. Every light, electrical appliance, and TV came back on together in a synchronized fashion, bringing us out of a deep winter’s sleep, from under the weight of our covers. FYI, a southern snow storm without power is not magical at all!
The next day and then the next day and then the day after that…the snow stayed put. The Ferry was shut down as well as Topsail Island and Surf City. Pictures began surfacing on social media of kids having the time of their lives while out of school. They were making snow angels and snowmen, sledding down our very tiny hills and yes, even eating snow cream. Also, we began seeing pictures of slushy, ocean waves and frozen tributaries appear on Facebook and Instagram. The Swingbridge in Surf City was surrounded by ice. The unusual cold snap and snow had turned our area into a frigid, but beautiful snow globe.
And then, as suddenly as it appeared, the cold left. After a week of record-breaking cold and snow, I’m happy to report we are now thawing and the snow is almost gone. Temperatures are back to normal – in the 50’s. For those of you who only visit us in the summer, I’m sorry you missed seeing our beautiful beach and Intracoastal waterway areas all frosted up and decorated with snowy icing. I’m putting some pictures in this blog post of what you missed and how we began our year of 2018. I’ve learned that no matter what time of year it is, all the seasons on Topsail are beautiful! Happy New Year to you and we’ll see you soon!