Our neighbors got to prove their mettle and thus, the truth of the phrase “it takes a village” during a snow storm this weekend. The epic first blizzard of 2016, Snowzilla buried the east coast from Virginia to New York City, dumping two to three feet of snow, shutting down schools, airports and Broadway.
In our rural North Carolina community everything ground to a halt with a sleet storm followed by snow, icing over our driveways and roads. Fortunately, we did not lose power as did 120,000 Carolinians east of us. But we were faced with a challenge. Our good neighbors who were on holiday without their children suddenly found themselves unable to fly home as planned. Although they had a solid child care plan in place, their stay was now extended by three days. The delay might have ruined their trip were it not for the robust network of friends who volunteered to pitch in.
Tami called a meeting at her kitchen table and we put together a schedule. Brooksie, a lovely woman from another neighborhood had stayed with the kids the night of the storm and would continue sleeping at their house until the ice began to melt. After she was able to drive out, others would stay at the house or bring the children to their homes. Some of us showed up for the breakfast shift and others to make dinner. None of us could get our cars out so we walked back and forth, carrying food and crayons.
The kids adapted as if this were nothing out of the ordinary. They easily accepted their new extended family and went along with the program as if this were the status quo. Indeed, humans are likely hard-wired for nurturing by many rather than two. Years ago, when Bob split from the mother of his children, she wisely observed that the girls were faced with an addition problem rather than a subtraction problem. They now had two mothers and two fathers, she said.
Another benefit of these unexpected circumstances was that we got to hang out with each other. I spent one memorable afternoon with Brooksie, a former acquaintance who now feels like a friend. Lyle and Tami called a potluck and we had an evening of hot chocolate, conversation and crokinole. Time slowed down and despite the cold we were driven outside and into each other’s homes. Zoila and I made the rounds to Hope’s, to Brooksie and the kids, and to Tami and Lyle’s holding umbrellas against the sleet. Hope set them up at her kitchen table with markers and a roll of paper so they could make a welcome home banner while we “mothers” enjoyed a good chat. It turned out the storm and delayed return of our friends were a great excuse to spend time with each other.
It’s times like these, when our cars are frozen to the earth and we mine our cupboards for crackers and beans that we return to our rightful pace. The gift of a common, meaningful goal gave our stride purpose and blushed our cheeks with pride of accomplishment. Eventually, the snow melted and the parents flew home, but we are all better off for the experience, happy to know what we are made of and what we can do together.