Wednesday, Dec 25 2013 06:00 AM

Guest Commentary: Getting used to a Tehachapi winter

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Virginia Pavlow

My journey to Tehachapi started 30 years ago from a small lakeside town in Iowa to the South Bay. Upon retiring, I wanted a return to my roots, a place where my grandchildren could enjoy more than just Xbox 360 and smart phones. My husband and I stumbled upon this little gem of a town, only two hours (give or take) from the kids. It was like coming home, four seasons, small-town atmosphere, the whole shebang.

Which brings me to my first winter in Tehachapi.

As I said, I grew up in Iowa -- lots of snow and cold, cold winters. I've played in the snow, walked on the snow and ice, driven on slippery roads, ice-skated on a frozen lake, been stuck on the road in -20 degree weather. I thought living in Tehachapi was a no-brainer with regard to winter. What I failed to remember is that it's been 30 years since I lived in a cold environment.

Wednesday morning, before the big storm, I was drinking coffee, talking on the phone with my sister. It was about 6:30 in the morning, and I realized I hadn't put the trash out.

Every other morning around 4:30, our water sprinkler system goes on, so I wasn't concerned when I saw water on the sidewalk on the way to get the trash. But the temperature happened to be in the teens, so as I stepped on the water (err, ice), I was painfully reminded of that old saying, "Watch out!" just before something bad happens. Suddenly, my feet were up in the air by my head, and I slammed down onto the concrete coming to rest flat on my back, my dignity shattered! Fortunately, I didn't break anything, not even my phone, but I did pull some muscles.

Then, Friday morning I woke up to frozen pipes -- no flushing toilet, no running water. I looked up "frozen pipes" on the computer, only to find out that not only could they freeze, but they could burst at any minute. My home was a ticking time-bomb. It also said, "locate the froze pipe and put a warm wet towel on it." Well, if my toilets aren't flushing, and none of my faucets work, just how in the heck am I supposed to know where the frozen pipe is?

I called the Emergency Water Hotline and explained my situation, sure that someone would rush to the scene. After being placed on hold three times, a very nice woman told me that I would have to wait for the pipes to unfreeze, and to call her back if they burst. I could only stare at the phone.

My first winter in Tehachapi has been a humbling experience. I'm still hurting from my fall but getting better. My pipes did thaw. I'm relearning everything I though I knew about winter. One thing I know -- I still love Tehachapi.


VIRGINIA PAVLOW lives in Tehachapi. And she's probably already heard, if you don't like the weather here, just wait awhile, it's sure to change!

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