The marmot was right!

Well, my skepticism has all but faded. Just when it looked as though we were really not going to have much winter at all, it seems the marmot actually did know that more was in store, and indeed the big freeze arrived in force last week.

Monday night’s weather report had everyone (even Mike Prangley, my favourite meteorologist) agog with anticipation as the first snow storm of the season was due to arrive. And right on cue, while I was singing my little heart out at Sweet Adelines, and Peter was teaching his Monday night class, the snow started to fall. We awoke on Tuesday morning to find several inches of snow covering everything in a sparkling pure white blanket.

While we had a small amount of snow at Christmas and a little more just after that, people have been waiting for a real snow storm for the last several months, and immediately emergency workers swung into gear. Snow plows cleared the streets and teams sprinkled sand and salt onto the roads to reduce ice-sliding. The heavy snow caused a number of schools to be cancelled. Those that opened were delayed a couple of hours and others closed early to enable children to get home.

I wasn’t sure if I should brave the snowy and icy roads to go for my Tuesday morning session at the Hanna Centre, but as the traffic seemed to be travelling easily down McCormick Road, I thought I would give it a try. I was so pleased I did, as the beauty of the snow-covered town and parklands were breathtakingly beautiful, and the roads in town were well cleared and treated. The only difficulty I had was a result of my carelessness while scraping the snow off the car. I had my handbag over my shoulder and I failed to notice that it was open, so I unknowingly managed to almost fill it with snow. When I got to Hanna, I had to empty everything out and dispose of the white fluffy pile. Luckily it was so cold in the car, that none of it had melted.

When Peter came home from work, he suggested we take advantage of the conditions to use his Christmas saucer, so down to Happy Hollow park we went, dressed warmly and ready for fun. We slid and swirled down a slope that was gentle enough for two middle-aged snow bunnies. We had great fun, and what we lacked in skill, we made up for with style! Peter nearly wiped out a man and his young daughter, but luckily they were watching him and were able to take evasive action.

The rest of the week has been either snowy or rainy and the temperature has continued to plummet, reaching a low overnight last night of 1 degree F. Today has been the coldest day we have had so far, but the good news is that a “warm” front is moving in tonight and we should be back up to the 30s tomorrow and hopefully up to the 50s by the end of the week.

On Saturday night, we braved the cold to go out to my friend Marcia’s place for dinner. I met Marcia at the Purdue Women’s Group Holiday Cookie Exchange and we have enjoyed many coffee dates and long chats since then. Marcia loves to entertain and her husband, Steve, loves to cook, so they make a good team. The evening was a truly international affair, with Marcia and Steve, originally from Connecticut, Camilla and Luis Garcia from Bogota, Colombia, Rose Mongeau from Brazil and her husband, Luc, from Montreal, and Peter and me.

Steve spent Friday night and all day Saturday preparing the feast, and the results were most impressive and absolutely delicious. We started with hors d’oeuvres in their magnificent lounge room. The delicacies he prepared included a cream cheese and onion dip with rye bread, chick pea hommus with Melba toast, almonds coated in egg white and various herbs and spices, then roasted, and some pinwheel concoctions made with flaky pastry. We moved into their equally impressive dining room – both living areas have full-length picture windows which look out into woodland and a ravine which run behind their house – to enjoy the main meal. For first course, Steve made prawn parcels wrapped in filo and tied with a length of chives, served on a bed of a mixture of tomato, basil and onion. Main course was medallions of pork fillet in a pear sauce with yams, and dessert was couscous in cream with crystallised and fresh pineapple and caramelised banana. The meal was complemented with wine (we took some good Australian red wine) and coffee. We were all very impressed with Steve’s culinary prowess and enthusiasm. It is a real passion with him and he assured us the effort was fun for him, and not a chore at all. We were delighted and surprised to learn that Camilla and Luis also live in Blackbird Farms. They were as amazed as us to hear that there were other “oldies” living in the complex. I am looking forward to having a neighbour with whom to enjoy coffee and visits.

We are also getting new neighbours in the apartment next door. This one has been vacant since we arrived which has been nice for us in terms of privacy, but I am looking forward to meeting the new arrivals – a Japanese couple and their two daughters, aged 3 and 5. We met the husband the other day. He is also a visiting professor at Purdue and will be here for the rest of the year.

Last week I wrote about our exciting visit to the Indy Speedway, and I must tell you that the first competitive event ever held there was the US National gas-filled balloon competition, which was held on June 5, 1909. Nick has given me the question for this week’s puzzle. He recently visited a biodome in the south of England where they grow a range of exotic plants. While there he learned the origin of the name of the avocado. Does anyone else know how that fruit got its name? If you do, please send your reply to me or to Nick. I hope Nick still has the answer, as I sure don’t know it.

Best wishes to all. Next week we’re off to warmer climes – Texas and then Mexico with Genny and Murray.

Adios amigos y amigas.