Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Chickens on Ice

The most consistent theme of our great Christmas odessey was that Chumley and I seemed to be the harbinger of miserable weather wherever we went, and no more painfully so than in Cornwall.  As is Chumley, Cornwall is very mild, even milder than the rest of the island, thanks to our friend, the Gulf Stream.  Cornish palms abound, and it's extremely rare for the temperature to ever hit or, God forbid, drop below, freezing.  Intrepid travelers that we are, Chumley and I left the house around 11 a.m. in snow on the East Coast, and arrived on the West Coast at 6:30 p.m.  We covered about 270 miles.  Most of this was highway/motorway driving, which still means we averaged only 41 miles per hour.  The cause?  A little snow on British roads prevents you from going a long way.

My mother-in-law has become a chicken enthusiast in the last year.  Besides the fresh eggs, she's done chicken watercolors, there's been chicken photography, a particular chicken-tending wardrobe, and all the chickens have names.  Chumley joked that they should be Fricasee, Jalfrezi, Korma, etc., but they are much more civilized names like Bella and Bossy.  After days on end of below-freezing weather, the water feature in the back garden/yard had frozen, and the chickens decided to put on an ice show spectacular.  We knew they had not been practicing "Bolero" by Torvill and Dean when one began pecking at the ice in an effort to break through, and the rest who stupidly joined the Ice Capades could not manage to leave the ice rink, despite announcements from management.

The locals found the cold appalling, and the roads were surprisingly slick.  It's not like the US, where the salt trucks drive all night and the roads are perfectly passable the next morning.  Not only were they running short on salt all over, but we heard on the radio that the council had gritted 800 or so miles of A roads (the major ones.)  In Cornwall, that doesn't quite cut it, as 80% of the roads are not A roads.  I don't think a road in Cornwall exists that doesn't involve a hill.  So, more ice skating for the rest of us.

I managed to avert tragedy myself while crossing a street, loaded down with several glass bottles of tasty holiday beverages.  One false step on a traffic hump and I felt my shoe move beneath me to the sickening clatter of glass on pavement.  Chumley looked horrified and rushed over to help, but I quickly handed him my carrier bag while clearly compos mentis.  "Forget me, save the booze!" I whispered.  At least my priorities were right.  Chumley's sister opened the front door to find me spread eagle on a traffic hump, stunned mostly by the near loss of a bottle of Piper Heidsieck champagne, a Riesling and something French for good measure.  "What are you doing?" she yelled helpfully.  The correct answer was that I was suffering from a brutally tenderized rump roast, but I replied with what came to mind.  "I'm just sitting here in the street."  Streets are filthy, by the way.  Thankfully, I was wearing my festive black velveteen jeans.  I wouldn't have been a very popular party guest had it got out that not only was I dirty and smelled of asphalt, but I was solely responsible for killing all festive beverages like dogs in the street.  Talk about American prohibition.

From that point forward, my outdoor walking paranoia started.  I am indeed a very large chicken on ice.

1 comment:

ChaChaneen said...

Hi there! I'm very behind in my blog reading so I am camped out today catching up and this post was a fun treat to read because I was laughing through much of it. You poor thing falling on the ice like that! I could mentally see the whole thing happening... oh what a vision! It was very interesting to learn about your roads. Funny, I don't really think about weather issues like that in the UK but obviously the WORLD has it's black ice too.