Christmas in New Hampshire

by John Delach

Christmas, 2010; Mother Nature was not a in a nurturing way for those of us living in the Northeast. Small as our family is, we seldom spend it together but 2010 was the exception. Besides Mary Ann and me, both the Briggs and Delach tribes trekked to Marlow, New Hampshire.


Tom, Beth, Marlowe & Cace Briggs, Michael, Jodie, Drew, Matthew & Samantha Delach, plus the granddame, Bare Delach, the elder Golden Retriever and Max & Ruby Delach, two, eleven-week old Golden puppies, the male belonging to us and the female, a birthday gift to Jodie.


Six adults, five kids and three dogs, all made it in three separate vehicles having to brave through various intensities of a major snow storm old Ma Nature threw at travelers like us navigating the I-91 Corridor. Mike and his family caught the worst of it but, fortunately, the peak of the storm didn’t hit until after we’d all made it safely to that place we call Little House.


Loss of power is issue number one in rural NH. Issue number two is freezing pipes that closely follows issue number one. We do have two wood burning stoves for our primary heat and our wood supply was superb. But, if we lost power, we’d lose water and life gets difficult quickly when that happens.


Cut to the good news: the power didn’t fail: “Thank God Almighty; say halleluiah, say Amen!”


With power, everything is good even though we were snowed in.  We shoveled where we had to with joy. The two pups realized they were in Golden Retriever heaven being able to play with each other in the snow without adult supervision anytime they wanted. Mike and Tom laid out a challenging sledding run on the hill above us that became the major outdoor attraction until the town sanded the hill.


What could have been an ordeal, turned out to be a winter wonderland. The pups left their need for action outside in the cold, kids also exhausted themselves in the snow and the adults had a marvelous time. Each time kids came in they were relived of soaking wet snow clothes; hats and boots that were hung from every available hook, railing or most any other surface that could hold a hanger. The stoves were well-tendered and the clothing dried quickly enough to be available for the next onslaught.


Inside was non-stop action. Food was always being prepared whether it was bagels and eggs, hot chocolate, soup, or great dinners. Good cheer and entertainment of every kind abounded from simple board games to playing electronic games or watching TV or DVDs.


Of course, things still go wrong. At the time, I was driving a Chrysler Aspen that I parked at the bottom of our circular driveway. My plan was to use this SUV as the lead vehicle to open the way out of the 16 inches of snow the storm had gifted to us. Unfortunately, when I made my attempt to open the driveway, I judged the turn too sharply and put the left hand side of my rig into a depression. Mike’s van was behind me. Mike and Tom did most of the clearing around the wheels and dug it out enough to enable me to pull the Aspen out using low gear with the transmission in four-wheel-low. After I cleared out I walked my original route and told Mike, “If you put your left tire in the depression I made with my right tire and you will be okay.” He did so and got out easily.


Another time after the driveway had been plowed by a local fellow from a garage in Gilsum, one town away, I came into the top of the driveway too fast. We were returning from a small local ski slope where my passengers had gone tubing – Beth and Tom, their two and Matt Delach. As I went into the first turn by the house, I realized too late that I was on ice under the snow and I wasn’t going to stop. The house was on the right so that direction was not an alternative. Ahead of me where the driveway curves to the left was Beth and Tom’s Grand Cherokee so that wasn’t a good alternative either.  My only choice was to keep going straight between a bush and a tree; deliberately leave the driveway and drop down into a level snow-covered grass area below it. Not sure how much space this gap afforded, I aimed more toward the bush figuring that would be the path of least resistance. Hot damn, it worked. It all happened so quickly that nobody said anything. Good fortune, part two, I was able to drive through the snow and regain the driveway. Only then did we three adults begin to realize what just happened. It did occur to me what an old friend used to say, “Delach, you just cleaned out your locker!”


This will be my last posting for 2014, I thank all those who enjoy my pieces and the kind remarks you make to me. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and see you all in January.