Ohio got more than its share of snow these last few days with record-setting snow fall from top to bottom. Airports in Cleveland and Cincinnati and points in between were closed, and my patio table was covered over in measurable stages. See?
This is what it looked like Friday around 4:00. I went to the grocery store that morning to stock up for the weekend, thinking I might not be able to get out later. I was right, and half the town agreed with me. There were more shopping carts in the aisles than I believe I have ever seen, and I had to park nearly a block from the front door.
This is what my poor table looked like the next morning after hours of freezing rain chiseled away at the pile of snow from the day before. Over night, we actually had thunder snow, which is something I don't recall witnessing before. It's a little creepy to see lightning and hear thunder during a whiteout. It seems to defy the laws of nature, but this is March. All kinds of weird weather things happen in March when it morphs from lion to lamb.
And this is the table near the end of the snowfall late Saturday afternoon. The pile on top measured nearly 12 inches. It's going to reach the 40s next week, so all of this melted snow will be just lovely on top of last weeks flooding.
One thing I noticed about myself when I am snowed in—I cook. I cook like I'm feeding the nation, not so much in volume but in intent. I have made enchiladas, pico de gallo, a batch of chocolate chip cookies, Ina Garten's turkey meatloaf, potatoes gratin with Gruyere, caramelized onion quiche, chicken curry strudel, and a pitcher of orange iced tea.
I remember a Garrison Keillor story that narrated a winter night in Minnesota, with the main character snug at home making a big pot of soup. She made extra in case a needy person were to knock on her door in need of food. It's ridiculous to think that might happen. There are needy people in my town, and not one of them has ever literally knocked on my door hoping for a share of my dinner. But the story resonated with me because I think that same thing from time to time. Sharing my meal seems to be in the back of my mind more often when it's cold and inhospitable outside than when it's sunny and warm and sleeping out under the stars is appealing. I look at the extra serving in the dish and secretly wish someone in need would show up on my front porch so I could share.
During the Great Depression, my mother's family lived on a sparse farm in Alabama. They just barely had enough to feed themselves—sometimes only a glass of milk with cornbread for dinner—but when wandering men stopped by and knocked on my grandmother's door, and they actually did, she never turned them away. In those days, hobos marked friendly houses and farms with secret symbols to let the next man know he could get at least a piece of bread there, or maybe he couldn't and should just keep walking, and mind the mean dog tied up by the barn. I suspect there was one of those friendlier symbols on my grandmother's front gate.
I'm thinking about hanging one of them on my front door so on nights when a foot of snow is falling outside with the wind gusting at 20 miles an hour, and I am making a cozy dinner of meatloaf and cheesy potatoes inside, people will know they can stop buy to get warm and to have a little dinner. I've made plenty.