As I was writing this blog a week or so ago, nature decided to deck the halls in all its glory. Snow descended on the West Texas Plains and temperatures drastically dropped as shoppers scurried from store to store. In the midst of it all everyone was putting up Christmas trees, pretty lights and making their homes beautiful.
But back to the snow. Although we only got about two inches where I am, some surrounding areas received up to four.
It was simply gorgeous.
I can admire it as long as I’m warm and snug inside and only viewing it through a window with a cup of something hot in my hand. I’m not one for venturing out if there’s the slightest chance I might fall and break a bone.
This recent snow and frigid temperatures reminded me of the research Phyliss, Jodi, DeWanna, and I did when we decided to write a Christmas anthology.
The Texas Panhandle where our stories are set is no stranger to horrible blizzards.
Beginning in late December of 1885 until about 1890, a series of devastating blizzards occurred that struck a blow and brought the cattle rancher to his knees. Hundreds of thousands of cattle froze or starved to death. Some ranches were completely wiped out and unable to stay in operation.
What does some snow have to do to cause financial ruin you ask?
Cattle instinctively drift south (sometimes over 100 miles or more) seeking shelter when blue northers and blizzards hit. They’re no dummies. And it wouldn’t have posed such a huge problem normally. But members of the Panhandle Stock Association erected a drift fence in 1882 that ran from the New Mexico line eastward to the Canadian River breaks. When the blizzard hit, the cattle began their southward trek…until they got caught at the drift fences. Unable to go any farther they huddled against each other along the fence line in huge bunches and died.
Then, during the especially harsh winter of 1886-1887 cattle losses were as high as 75%. One cowboy of the LX Ranch reportedly skinned 250 carcasses a mile for 35 miles along one section of fence alone. Now, that’s a lot of dead cows!
So, when Phyliss, Jodi, DeWanna and I decided to write a Christmas book, we knew we wanted to incorporate a blizzard into each of the stories.
In my story, a train is stuck by the deep snow and there’s a pregnant woman, a very ill elderly man and three orphan children on board. If not for Sloan Sullivan, a nearby rancher, who brought much needed supplies and the courage of Tess Whitgrove they might not have survived.
So, remember this next time you’re caught in a blizzard…avoid fences and have plenty of hot stuff along to keep your blood pumping. Use your cell phone to call for help. Oh, and make sure you have a handsome rescuer not far off.
This is my last blog for 2011. My thanks to everyone who supports all of us here at P&P.
MERRY CHRISTMAS and Happy New Year!