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Jillian had a friend, we'll call her Mandy. Sadly she has passed away now, but at the time Jillian knew her she owned a delightful little cottage in a country town a few hours away from a major city in Australia. It was in an area noted for snow - being a few hours from a popular ski resort.
The cottage was a two bedroom single story 'in-line' dwelling. By 'in-line' I mean bedroom 1 was at one end and bedroom 2 at the other with the lounge, kitchen, laundry and bathroom in the centre. There was a carport at one end. The whole place was capped with a green painted iron roof and a bull-nose verandah with a timber floored decking which was only about 15 cm above the ground.
Situated up from the road about 500 metres, with the longish driveway meandering through a lovely garden of native plants, shrubs, flowers and large trees; it was idyllic.
The back yard – such as it was – where the wood-lean-too lived and the small, low shed for a few garden tools and other implements required for an almost country retreat - pretty much backed directly onto the hill behind. There was a tiny strip of lawn extending from behind the carport to the bedroom at the other end of the home, and a flower bed or two as Mandy loved her little plot of ground in the bush.
This is where Mandy lived and Jillian had been a guest a number of times.
It was an English style retreat with hundreds of knick-knacks which lived on many and various pieces of vintage (elegant) but mismatched furniture pieces. There were crocheted rugs, crocheted anti-macassars and crocheted blankets everywhere. It was not subdued, but all the colours (and it was a multi-coloured place) were more pastel then vibrant.
It was a stylistic mess, but an absolutely wonderful place to drop out of the world and sit by a huge fireplace with crackling, and sparking logs giving heat and almost all the light in the room. Wine was a requirement and Mandy always had some lovely varieties to share..
She was a great cook and baker and the smell of the latest dish or batch almost always required an immediate taste test whenever anyone visited. Visitors were many and varied. And often. Mandy loved entertaining. And these tastings were successful every time and in every way.
Mandy loved it. She adored the serenity and the fact that it was small and cosy, warm when necessary and cool on hot summer days.
Rain on the tin roof was a wondrous thing she had wished for ever since she was a little girl living in a small house in the suburbs. It had taken years, but here it was. Everything she had ever wanted. Mandy was happy, content and completely satisfied. She had her haven, her oasis, her safe harbour.
One day it snowed.
And it continued to snow for nearly a week. By the time those in the town realised that this was going to be one mother of all snow storms it was a bit late.
Electricity and phones were failing at an alarming rate. Roads were blocked. Snow was pushed up into huge drifts 1 - 2 metres high on the windward side of any structure and was sloughing off hills and banks to pile up equally high on the sheltered sides of buildings.
To put it mildly it was – well you can't put it mildly. It was turning into a catastrophe. One the townsfolk had not experienced before.
After Mandy found she couldn't open her front door, nor see out of the windows on the front of her home she became a little frightened.
Her battery operated transistor radio tuned to the local station was only playing static. So frantically she used her trusty emergency torch to tune to a station some towns away. The announcers were very excitedly explaining that this was going to be a case of staying home and waiting it out. But already Mandy was unable to open the front door or the windows.
In a huge panic she rushed to the back door and thankfully it opened.
But this was not a good sight. The snow had slid off the hill behind and down to the lawn. It was 2 metres high. She could get out of the door but could not get to the wood, the shed or the carport - or anywhere for that matter.
She was trapped.
No power, no phone, no more wood for the fire, a few baked goods and one casserole. The water pipes, she found when thirst drove her to the kitchen, must have burst or frozen as no water could be coaxed out of the tap for love nor money. This was not looking good for Mandy.
It was starting to get much darker outside. She began to feel that she couldn't breathe. Mandy's haven, oasis, safe harbour was now nothing but. It was a prison, It was a horror house. It was a shelter no more.
She could not sit, she could not sleep, get warm, nor eat, nor drink. Reading and relaxing was obviously completely out of the question. Panicked pacing was the order of the day.
For some hours she just wore out a trail from one end of the house to the other.
The excitement she had felt at having her own beautiful place disappeared in a trice and was replaced by fear and loathing. She began to worry if she would get out alive. The walls seemed to be closing in. The roof was getting lower. Everything was dark and dire. Sounds were muffled by the huge buffer of snow between her and the rest of the world. Not that the rest of the world was doing much of anything that would make noise anyway. All was quiet. All was still. It was unreal.
Eventually Mandy fell asleep on the rug in front of the very dead and very cold fire.
She was discovered, some day and a half after this, curled up in the foetal position, still in-front of the fireplace; very tired, very cold, hungry, dehydrated and more scared than anyone should ever be at home alone.
Luckily the local emergency volunteers had managed to get themselves mobile and had begun a house to house to find anyone who might have been trapped. Fortunate for Mandy
Mandy sold the cottage that summer and moved back into the city. Never to be a country girl thereafter. Of course Jillian didn't get to stay there again. #ourjillian