Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, January 2019
It is cold, the threat of snow a remote possibility. The Weather Channel…always a backdrop in our household…is spouting off random facts related to barometric pressure and cold fronts and rain mixing then changing to snow in our area. I hear the joking camaraderie that is part of the charm of this group of meteorologists, as one of them launches into the history of weather patterns and record-breaking highs and lows in Texas and then, for some odd reason, compares our highs and lows with Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan’s. Weird and not really relevant, but typical.
My sense of urgency increases as I hear the theme song from “The Game of Thrones” swell in the forecast’s background and I think, “Winter is coming.”
I rush to dig my dusty hat, scarf, gloves, and a down coat rated for sub-zero temperatures out of the back of the closet. Then, walking through the kitchen, stash two bottles of water and a granola bar in my overnight bag to place in the backseat of my SUV, just in case...
"The list” lies front and center on the kitchen counter and is almost forgotten as I maneuver around my dogs, who are anxiously watching me approach the door to the garage. Three dog faces look toward leashes willing me to include them, but as I reach for car keys, they know I am leaving solo and begrudgingly go three separate ways to sulk and sleep.
Opening the kitchen door leading to the garage, I anticipate a blast of frigid air swirling into the kitchen and clutch my coat close around my chest and throat. I slam the door shut, jog two feet to my car, and toss the overnight bag in the backseat. Dropping into the driver's seat, I crank the engine and start to back up only to discover the garage door is still shut tight—possibly the reason that I never felt that blast of anticipated frigid air. The garage door rises at the touch of a button on the opener attached to my visor and I begin the short journey.
There seems to be a small traffic jam at the stop sign down the hill from our home and I wonder if all of my neighbors have the same destination in mind. They all turn right—but I turn left to bob and weave through back streets in the hopes of cutting them off at the pass. It is crucial to get there early before the crowds arrive.
The parking lot is full and I join the queue of cars circling like vultures waiting for a parking spot to open up. Luck is with me, as I spy reverse lights just in front of me and wait while they back out, then neatly swoop into the vacated spot. I feel loathing from still circling motorists but this only urges me on with renewed passion.
I walk with purpose and step up to the automatic doors. They swoosh open and my worst nightmare is realized. Laden shopping carts are pushed by panic-stricken Texans and the grocery shelves are depleted of staples necessary to ride out this cold spell.
Pulling "the list” out of my purse, I look at it with a more rational point of view and notice four gallons of milk is the first hastily scrawled item, followed by six loaves of bread. What was I thinking?
In a household of three—with one of us lactose intolerant—this seems excessive by any standards, especially when you factor in that we never use milk for any reason, unless we run out of coffee creamer. As for the bread, we often find unopened moldy loaves stashed at the back of our bread-box.
It is only then that I notice sweat pooling on my body beneath the cover of wool and down. I am hot. The temperature is well above freezing and as I turn to leave the store I notice, there is not a cloud in sight. I remember the new loaf of bread in the freezer and the full pint of creamer in the refrigerator and, ripping off my arctic outerwear; I step out into the warm winter Texas sun.
By Lisa H. Owens