by Linda Rodriguez
We were hit by a major winter storm this weekend, not for the first time this winter. Because of a shattered shoulder and mobility issues caused by other health problems, my doctors issued a prohibition against leaving the house if there was snow or ice or freezing rain this entire winter. Normally, this would have meant spending most of January in the house with an occasional imprisonment of the day or two a couple of times in February and maybe once in March. This winter has not been a normal winter. I have been confined to the house for almost all of January and February—and now moving into March. I have had to reschedule multiple medical appointments time and time again. It's getting old.
Now, it's just about spring or what should be spring, and here comes another round of polar weather, heavy snow, frigid winds, and ice. The National Weather Service in our area puts out an alert for a winter storm—4-7 in of snow, gusts of wind causing low visibility and blizzard conditions, temperatures dropping to single digits with wind chills below zero. My husband heads for the grocery store with a list to supply us for the next several weeks, because we realize he may have difficulty getting to the grocery store during those next several weeks. I keep checking the weather forecast every couple of hours, because it keeps changing every couple of hours, usually growing more severe as time passes. I figure it will be weeks before I see a bare sidewalk again. I hope spring comes before I forget how to walk outside in the fresh air.
I know this is happening all over the country, that people are having a more severe winter with more snow, but that doesn't make it feel any better or any easier to deal with. Since I'm under doctor's orders not to leave the house if there is snow or ice on the ground or snow or ice or freezing rain in the air, this is like a sentence of imprisonment. In an ordinary winter, this would be an inconvenience. In this winter, it has become a nightmare.
Every store in town has been sold out of ice melt, de-icer, snow shovels, and ice scrapers for many, many weeks. If you didn't stock up at the beginning of the season, you are definitely out of luck. And even if you did, you are probably out of supplies by now. In Kansas City, this weather, which has included so many ice storms this year, has caused a record number of massive potholes, which the city says it will not be able to repair until mid-summer, if then. Tire stores and car repair businesses are booming. Areas of the city have repeatedly lost power during these storms for days at a time. Limbs and branches from trees have piled up around the city, been picked up, and piled up again.
Into this bleak arctic landscape, one bit of cheer has made its way into my household. The mail delivery, which has been delayed due to major storms several times in the past couple of months, brought me news that cheered the winter doldrums. My newest book, Dark Sister, is a finalist for the Oklahoma Book Award in poetry. The award ceremony is in April. I'm delighted to be a finalist, no matter who wins the award in the end. This bit of good news has been a little breath of spring in the midst of our never-ending winter. Now, I only have to hope that I will be physically healed enough to make it to the awards ceremony and, even more importantly, that there will be no blizzards to block travel to Oklahoma for this event. In the middle of April, such would seem highly unlikely, but this has been an extraordinary and overactive winter, which shows no intentions of leaving on time.
Keep your fingers crossed for me, will you, please?
Linda Rodriguez's Dark Sister: Poems is her 10th book. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, were published in 2017. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery featuring Cherokee detective, Skeet Bannion, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in 2019. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, Every Last Secret—and earlier books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.
Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at http://lindarodriguezwrites.blogspot.com