Shock and awe

Shock and awe—that’s the only way I can describe it.
The snow that greeted me the other morning gave me a niggling feeling we had waited too long to head south. But I had to make the best of it, so I dug out of the garage the musty old coat and shook it out.
The toque I had left in the sleeve was still there, along with a 10-pound stash of weed seeds some chipmunk is going to be really ticked off about losing.
The insulated gloves I’d hidden in the tool drawer were well-chewed on by the resident mice, but they will have to do.
I thought I was all set to tough it out. I was wrong.
About 2 a.m. after a trip to the john, I noted there was no water at the faucet. Freezing temperatures were putting the pinch on the temporary water supply the town crew had installed while they were redoing the water lines on our street.
I stumbled back to bed.
“I’ll look after it in the morning,” I muttered to myself as I put my cold feet against my wife’s, “The Pearl of the Orient,” butt. A sharp elbow to my ribs corrected that search for comfort and brought me more fully awake.
And then reality hit me! If the water froze solid, it likely would split the copper stand pipe on my outdoor supply and not only necessitate some tricky soldering, but also might flood the basement.
Neither prospect was particularly inviting, so I rolled out of the sack and plugged in the electric kettle. There was just enough water in it for one quick thawing attempt.
Wrapped in my ratty old robe, I slipped on my sneakers, grabbed the flashlight, and headed out into the teeth of what felt like a Siberian blizzard. Some place in there, my trembling being was shouting at me about warmer clothes, sloppy shoe laces, and slippery decks, but I persevered.
Alas, the kettle of boiling water dumped over the stand pipe did not result in a rush of water. So grabbing my trusty vice grip, I undid the hose coupling from the town water supply.
A little dribble came out. Obviously this hose had either a prostate or frost problem.
I lined the flashlight up with the hose and peered down it to see how thick the ice was. I could see nothing, so I bent closer.
Suddenly the hose had an explosive bowel movement of, ice, slush, and about a thousand gallons of ice cold, well-chlorinated water.
Now fully awake, I threw off the robe—it was only slowing me down—and rushed over to the supply line to shut off the valve. In the process, I lost a shoe as I tumbled into the ditch.
Shutting off the valve, I clawed my way out of the ditch and rushed back to hook up the line. I tried to do it by feel as the flashlight had died, but my numb frozen fingers were not working too well.
By the time I was finished, I was beyond pain but still managed to get the supply turned back on.
Once again first falling in the ditch, then clawing my way out, I crawled back to the house and turned on the tap. Water! Let it run!
Before hypothermia totally took over, I managed to crank the electric blanket up to “roast” and crawled back in the sack. The last thing I remember was a scolding from the Pearl about “cold feet” and “stupid idea.”
The robe, the flashlight, the lost shoes, and the vice grips would have to wait until morning to be retrieved.