The weathermen and women spared no words in warning, predicting and reporting on the “historic Arctic cold” that was headed our way this month.

We didn’t ignore their prognostications. We wrapped the pipes, drained some water lines, brought in the plants, and stocked up on food. We felt we were ready for whatever Jack Frost would send us.

Rather than sit here and bemoan the climatological aberrations, I found myself looking beyond our little piece of geography in South Central Louisiana. Wherever family and friends lived, especially in the Frozen North (and South this time), became of interest to me. I checked with them several times a day to see if they had power and water and were safe.

Because our daughter lives amidst all the power outages in and around Houston, that became our primary focus. She was comfortable, she said, but many friends were not. She offered her home to them for washing clothes, bathing, and cooking.

In doing our own check list of preparations for record low temps, we didn’t have to look any farther than our close neighbors. One sent over warm cookies while also lending us a device that looks like a turkey baster’s ugly relative. It’s a handheld instrument used to check for the antifreeze content in the car’s coolant system.

With this device in hand my dear husband went about running tests on friends’ and family members’ cars. I need to mention it was already pretty cold by Louisiana standards when he did it too.

Another nearby neighbor got into the Mardi Gras mood. She surprised us with a small King Cake to be sure we were in the holiday mood despite the dire weather warnings.

Family members were thinking of us too. Our daughter, Beth, came over early one morning, and using the pass key she keeps handy, came in and started making the coffee before we were up. Is there a better smell than freshly perked coffee on a cold morning?

The stay-at-home-order superceded the safety requirements associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. For a few days it put such worries second on my list. On a rainy morning I found myself at the door of our local butcher shop where a sign clearly reminded customers that masks are mandatory! Of course, but being that I had been at home for several days, I’d left my mask in the car.

I must have looked like a guilty four-year-old as I said out loud, “Oh, I forgot my mask!”

Then another customer rushed to my rescue — she was out the door and back again before you can say, “Jack rabbit”! She handed me a brand-new mask, saying, “I always carry a few extra just in case…”

In addition to my worrying about the road conditions and the possibility of power outages, etc., for our loved ones, I didn’t realize that there are others both near and far, friends and strangers, who are thinking about us too.

By the time you read this, the “Freeze to Beat All Freezes” will be in the past, but the acts of kindness won’t be forgotten. In looking back on this unique week of winter precipitation, closed roads, frozen pipes and school closures, in the future while reminiscing, we may forget how low the temperature got, or how the trees dipped to the ground while dressed in clear icicles.

But we won’t forget the acts of kindness that came our way.

Now it’s up to us to figure out a way of passing it forward, perhaps during hurricane season later this year.

JULAINE DEARE SCHEXNAYDER is retired after a varied career in teaching and public relations. Her email address is julaines14@gmail.com

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