Those of us in the East are having our first snow this Halloween weekend. As I sit at the computer, looking out the window at the snow beginning to fall, this seems like the perfect time to tell a tale–family folklore, a legend in my own mind–of another snowy weekend in Lancaster County, PA, some years ago…
It began not unlike many of the best horror movies–on a sunny, crisp, clear, but cold day. A Friday. A day full of promise. A day marred only by one innocent mistake.
The weathermen were calling for a snowstorm that weekend, a big one. Fortunately, I had just been to the grocery store, and we were well-stocked. Or so I thought. With a false, innocent feeling of security, I went straight home from work without a glance at the food markets along the way and settled in for a cozy, snowbound weekend with my family.
It didn’t hit us until the next morning, after the snow had already fallen heavily overnight. Yes, we were well-stocked except for two things–bread and milk. My heart sank that Saturday morning as I peered into the refrigerator and into the pantry, furiously shoving items out of the way to get a better look around. Unable to grasp the unthinkable, the unimaginable. But no. No bread. No milk. The worst had happened and we would have to cope.
That first day went okay once we all allowed ourselves to accept our dire circumstances. Sure, we had a refrigerator drawer full of lunch meat and cheeses, Filet Mignon, pork chops, chicken breasts, rice, potatoes, fresh produce, pasta with homemade sauce in the freezer, salsa and chips, snacks and drinks galore. But can one really bear to eat eggs over easy without toast? Is a bowl of cereal really still a bowl of cereal using half-and-half, or eaten dry? We would have to improvise. We had no choice.
As we sat around the dinner table that evening making do with our steak and baked sweet potatoes, garlic broccoli, and salad, with a good chardonnay (for me), I saw wistful glances at the empty bread basket. Oh, my family was good-humored about it–so far–but there were lighthearted admonishments like, “Way to go, Mom.” or “Major fail, Mom.” or “If only Mom had made that one quick stop.” My spirits fell.
By Sunday, the reality and extent of our deprivation seemed oh so real. We could not have French toast. I could not make chocolate mousse. Or stuffing. It was too painful to even look at the Oreos. The kids sat around in a daze drawing pictures of cows and wheat fields and sandwiches served with tall, cold glasses of milk. Their sadness was my burden to shoulder.
On Monday, the snow had stopped, but we still had to dig out. I got up early determined to make up for my poor error in judgment. Enough. We had just about enough. We needed the kind of sustenance that only bread and milk can provide.
So, I strapped on my snow shoes and walked a couple of miles to the nearest convenience store. Fortunately, there was one jug of milk and one loaf of bread left on the bare shelves. I snatched them up quickly, glancing around furtively to see if anyone would try to claim them. Nobody did. Nobody else was in the store. I paid and left, making the trek back home in record time, determined to make a full breakfast for my family complete with scrambled eggs, french toast, pancakes, and bacon.
Unfortunately by that time, we were out of eggs and bacon, pancake mix, and cereal, too. But, we sat down as a family, to plates of buttered toast and tall glasses of milk. It was a breakfast for the ages. A breakfast to remember for all times. A breakfast fit for Kings and Queens alike.
We will always remember that snowy weekend that never actually happened.
Happy (snowy or otherwise) Halloween.