It was Friday, December 8th of 2013 and we were winding down what had been an exciting and exhausting weekend. The previous day Middle School Friends had successfully designed and performed a peaceful protest with the help of Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT), performed a talent show, baked cookies, and played running charades. All that was left on the agenda was joining our hosts from Concord Meeting for worship and lunch.
We weren’t surprised to see snow, a few light flurries had been predicted when I’d checked the weather on Thursday, so I didn’t think much of it, but over 45 minutes of Meeting for worship, the intensity increased. By the end of meeting everyone was hustling to leave on time. Roads were clogged with slow moving vehicles. Low visibility and icy roads soon made it inadvisable to drive, and the roads going either direction from the meetinghouse turned in long narrow parking lots.
It became clear that not everyone was going to make it out. Three Middle Schoolers remained. The parent who had bravely driven to pick them up got tantalizingly close, stopped near a Wawa less than a mile away, but the icy conditions were so extreme she ended up turning around and heading home.
Fortunately, the folks at Concord were happy to have us stay a little while longer. Super assistant Kody Hersh immediately set to work making more delicious chocolate chip cookies, and trusty friendly adult presences Shani Taylor and Helen Pauly-Hubbard continued to supervise while I got on the phone with the parents involved and talked about all possible scenarios.
After contacting the parents involved, and watching the snow seem to calm down slightly, we came up with a plan to get everyone home. We would all jam into the minivan we’d rented for the weekend, and see if we could make it back towards the city, staying on slow roads and driving extremely carefully. Again super-assistant Kody came in handy, using his tetris skills to pack the van so tightly the every inch of space was used.
Three MSF’s sat in the back seat and were buried in pillows, sleeping bags, and other soft materials that wouldn’t fit anywhere else. Everyone else would have to go without legroom. Just as everyone got into the van, two figures emerged from the snow.
“Don’t try to drive out there, its jammed as far as the eye can see in both directions”, said a woman we recognized. It was the mom of a middle schooler, followed closely by her son. She explained that she’d only driven about a mile when she’d had to abandon her car beside the road and walked back to the meetinghouse.
This was going to be tougher than we thought. We contacted all of the families involved again, and Kody and I made plans to hike to the Wawa to buy dinner for everyone.
We walked by many slow-moving vehicles, and through about 6 inches of snow. After returning from the Wawa we ate dinner, and I decided to make one last attempt to try to leave before night fell.
Myself and the mom and Middle Schooler who had hiked back from their car earlier drove out to see weather we could retrieve her car, and to test the driving conditions. We made it about a quarter mile before stopping behind a line of cars. We ended up turning around less than half a mile away and returning to the meetinghouse. We did manage to retrieve her car (which was one of many abandoned along the side of the road), but the trip took over an hour, and was confirmation that we would need to spend the night.
After talking it over with the parents involved, we decided to leave in the early hours of the morning. After a night of rain and above-freezing temperatures, and before the morning rush hour we would drive to my apartment, where the parents would meet us.
We spent the rest of the evening enjoying each other’s company. At the suggestion of a parent, we had a homework hour. We also played cards, did a little extra cleaning in the meetinghouse, and talked about Middle School Friends. It wasn’t necessary to set a bedtime, half the group was asleep by 9:30 and the rest of us were exhausted and happy to turn in early.
The next morning the adults woke up at 5 AM to repack the car. We woke the Middle Schoolers at 6, hopped in the car, and escaped from the great blizzard of 2013.