When Sadie Thompson woke up Tuesday morning, school was canceled and the outside of her home in Columbia had transformed — overnight — into a winter wonderland.
Just after 8 a.m., Sadie and her mom, Rory Thompson, ventured out into frozen landscape around Columbia State Historic Park in their snow gear. Over the next hours, there were snowball fights, snow angels, snowmen (at least three of them), and fresh snow cones drenched in cranberry and orange juice.
“We went outside and we watched and we looked. We also tried to sled but that didn't work,” Sadie, 10, a Sierra Waldorf School fourth grader, said.
Later, the pair put away the trash can lids they used to try and sled, and instead used a yellow IKEA bag. Neither worked as well as a regular pair of snow pants to slide down a hill, Rory, 45, a Sierra Waldorf School teacher, said.
“We’ve been outdoors since about 8:30, except to eat breakfast,” Rory Thompson said.
Their home was without power all day, forcing them to abandon any electronic activities.
Other homes were spared from the power outages, but before Nikole Henson could settle into her home near Tuttletown for movies and hot chocolate, she had a chore to do.
Henson, 15, a sophomore at Sonora High School, had to feed her 8-month-old, 850-pound-steer. The red and white behemoth named Charlie eats grain and wheat hay and was growing rapidly since Henson purchased him in November.
This would be his first time experiencing the snow, she said, and she was excited about how he would react.
“He was running around and kicking in the snow,” she said. “It was really cool to see him excited that there was white stuff coming out of the sky.”
Henson said Charlie would be sold at the Mother Lode Fair in the summer. They were able to share in the experience, she added, because she never raised a steer in this weather either.
Like many students, she said she enjoyed school but appreciated the opportunity to take a snow day.
“I think it's nice to have a day off from school. We never get snow at our house, so it's very nice to finally have that,” she said.
Students such as Clavey Wood, 15, a freshman at Summerville High School, said the power outage in Columbia allowed his family to adapt to unexpected circumstances, but still have fun.
“It kind of gives everyone a break from the TV and electronics. We all just hang out as a family, and you go outside with your friends and play. Once you get out there, it’s a lot more fun than staying in and watching TV,” he said.
After sledding with friends in Columbia, Wood returned home. Their electric stove was rendered unusable by the outage, so they cooked leftover chicken, steak and fried rice in their fireplace for lunch.
They played Monopoly for over an hour. Wood said he won.
Rory said parents relished the opportunity to spend time with their children at a time they normally wouldn't spend together.
“Free time is so rare these days,” she said.
Brooke Flynn, 27, and her son, Tyler Hyde, 8, ate a meal at Perko’s Cafe on Mono Way in Sonora at about noon.
They didn’t get to do this often, Flynn said. She works nights as a server at the Eproson House in Twain Harte while he attends school at Columbia Elementary.
The drive to lunch wasn’t scary for Hyde, who said he was excited to snowboard down icy hills in the backyard of their Barretta Street townhouse after lunch.
“I’m excited about it because we were supposed to have school, but it’s snowing instead,” he said.
Flynn said he spent most of the morning watching TV. Once he went outside, the snowballs started to fly.
“I don't get to spend time with him as much during the day,” she said. “He loves it.”
Between the frigid dumps of snow in the afternoon, sun rays peeked out from the clouds.
Sadie was anxious, her mother said. She didn’t want the rare phenomenon to melt away and for the fun to end.
After a while, the sunlight dimmed again, and Sadie set to work on yet another snowman.
“The best part of my day was sitting in the snow with mom,” Sadie said.