Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back in Iowa! (It's a warm 10.)

Dec. 17, I hadn’t gotten much sleep. I was up late packing. I managed to drag myself out of bed just in time to snag a cab to the airport.

My cabbie was from Senegal, and quickly became enamored with Iowa and…me. Heh. He has a business degree and specialized in insurance, so he loved the idea of a city full of insurance companies and low rent. When he learned that my dad raises sheep, which he sells to Africans for fresh lamb for parties, he was a goner. “Okay, but what are the winters like?” I told him the first snows might come now and then in October. They would come and go through November and December. The weather gets colder and snowier in January. In February you kind of want to die, it’s so cold and dreary. March brings ice storms, but by the end of march it’s usually spring. “Oh, no. I was wondering why the rent was so cheap.” Hee! Yes, there’s always a catch.

My flights went smoothly. When the pilot announced it was just 10 degrees in Des Moines, my body clenched, but stepping off the plane onto the tarmac, I was relieved. There was no wind, and the sun was shining. It was a warm 10 degrees, with gorgeous fluffy snow everywhere. For the first time in years, I managed to make it to Iowa on time, and with all of my luggage. Mom got to the Des Moines airport just as I snagged my bag off the baggage carousel. That night, I happily ate Mom’s vegetable beef soup, happily reunited with my parents.

The next day, they were at work while I played with pets and went shopping for Christmas presents in Perry. Roads were bad enough that I didn’t want to drive all the way to Des Moines. I managed to find items from J.B. and Erika’s wish lists, as well as toys my nieces would like, locally. Hooray!

Friday, school was cancelled for bad weather, so I got to hang out with mom. After lunch, I played in snow. When I bought Christmas presents, I also got a great deal on a saucer-sled ($4!) which I tried out on the slopes behind the house. The dogs were happy to go out and play with me.

Once Dad got off work, I chored with him. Mostly I followed him around while we bought fuses and tires, handed him buckets of grain or a bale of hay. I shoveled snow out of feeders for the sheep. Dad suggested I use an empty bucket. The only problem is, the hungry sheep didn’t quite get the concept of EMPTY BUCKET. Eventually, I was pinned to a fence by snuffling ewes. “Dad,” I called out, “I don’t think this is working. Can I have a shovel?” Heh.

I finished shoveling them out, then helped dad board up the top half of a barn door (so the sheep could come and go at will without the building losing too much heat). Then I shoveled the sidewalk and front steps. Note to town-people: if you have to clear driveways, etc., and don’t have a snowblower, buy a scoop shovel and a scraper. Those snowshovels are flimsy and inefficient. Trust me.

Saturday, we were supposed to have family Christmas in Northern Iowa, but weather was bad, so we stayed home. I’d been hoping to see my paternal grandparents, but didn’t relish a long slog in blizzard conditions. All day, Mom kept musing, “I’m so glad we’re not driving to Algona right now!” I hope we get to see them, though.

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