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So You Think Winter is Really Over?

by Mary Jo Shannon

Julius Caesar was warned, “Beware the Ides of March.” We had no such warning for the Ides of March, 1993. The results were not as dire as the fate that befell Caesar, but the circumstances that evolved from an unexpected change in the weather made life chaotic.

Kathy and Skip were delighted that their house in Silver Spring, Maryland had finally sold and so that they could move into a new home they had built in Raleigh NC. For two years they had been living in an apartment in Raleigh with rented furniture while they waited for a buyer.

Now the closing was set for Saturday, March 13th, and Kathy asked if we could help with the move. Of course we agreed, anticipating  a pleasant weekend with our children, sharing the work and their company.

Kathy had planned everything in great detail. She arranged for the rental company to pick up the furniture after her departure. On Friday afternoon, Skip would drive from Philadelphia, where he was working that week; we would drive to Raleigh and accompany Kathy. Fortunately, Skip’s sister was caring for their two girls, ages 6 and 3 at her home in Richmond.

We planned to meet at the house, have dinner and sleep to rest up for the busy day to follow. In the morning, we would load the U-Haul truck with the furniture they had left in the house to make it more attractive to potential buyers, and then Kathy and Skip would go for the furniture they had left in storage.

That was when the plan began to unravel. When they arrived at the storage facility, it was vacant. Empty buildings and no one around.

“It was like the Twilight Zone,” Kathy said. The business had moved over a year before and no one had notified them. After finally locating it, they loaded the truck, being careful to place the dining room furniture Kathy inherited from her grandmother last so it would be easy to remove first. She had made an appointment to drop it off to be refinished when we arrived back in Raleigh.

Throughout the day we had been paying close attention to the weather reports – snow was on the way! By afternoon it had begun and the outlook was ominous – not the light snow we had expected in the middle of March. Harry suggested we change our plans and start the long drive instead of waiting until morning. So we set out, headed for Raleigh in what became known as the “Blizzard of ’93.”

Skip drove the U-Haul and we traveled in tandem, creeping along with poor visibility. When we reached Petersburg, we were forced to stop – a whiteout made driving impossible. We spent the night in a motel.

The snow continued to fall during the night, but in the morning we were able to resume our travel, although driving was slow and tedious.   Of course, the carefully planned schedule was no longer useful. The person who had planned to refinish the furniture was unavailable, (we had missed our appointment). Skip and Harry had to climb three flights of stairs with the dining room furniture to store it in the vacant apartment until new arrangements could be made.

When Harry and I prepared to head back to Roanoke, we discovered our battery was dead! One more obstacle to be overcome on this bewitched weekend! Arriving home safely many hours later we had to shovel sixteen inches of snow from our driveway before we could enter the house and tumble into warm beds.

So you think winter is really over? Beware the Ides of March!

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