Thursday, December 23, 2004

I'm Not Praising Winter Today

It's poetic justice, I suppose. For a little over a week now, I have subjected of all my faithful readers (i.e. my wife and daughter), to my exuberant and ceaseless utterings over the glories of winter. Today, however, the reader is to be spared my gloating long enough to learn how the season caused me a pratfall or two today.

For you see, despite all of my recent kind words, glowing descriptions, and majestic photographic renderings of old man winter, he turned upon me today: in a rather mean-spirited and nasty sort of manner indeed. I'm not sure what put the old geezer into such a sour mood; perhaps it was simply the normal virus of crotchetiness that occasionally seizes almost all men of a certain age.

I speak from some experience. Periodically, and for no discernable reason, my normally equanimous disposition morphs into an ogre-like snarl. That's what happened to winter last night, and it's what continued well on into the day.

We have had guests at the cottage for the past few days, which is one reason why dear reader has been recently spared my lengthy ramblings. The guests were due to depart today. We were to drive them to the nearby village where they could catch the Greyhound to Toronto. Should have been a simple task. Should have been simple despite the six-inch snowstorm that dropped by overnight. Should have been simple because the municipality ploughs the roads both quickly and efficiently out here in the country. Should have been simple because we have a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Should have been simple, but it wasn't simple because there was a snow storm last night.

This morning, the ground was covered with snow, and the car was covered with ice. So, it occurred to me that if the car was ice-covered, so might the roads be. I walked up the long driveway to the road to see for myself. As I walked, I pulled the hood of my coat up over my head to shield myself from the rain. I was able to walk up the driveway without too much difficulty because its snow base rendered it mushy and rather than icy. The road, however, had become a veritable skating rink.

Unfortunately, four-wheel drive vehicles, as great as they might be on regular snow, are no match for ice. Four-wheel drive doesn't come equipped with skates, and that's what would have been required this morning. I was not about to try to skate my CRV over twisty, ice-covered, country roads: roads that sometimes skirt the edge of lakes with no intervening guardrails. It would have been an invitation for disaster.

No, I wasn't about to drive anywhere in those conditions. Company would have to stay for another day. However, the car had been left facing the wrong way last night: away from the road rather than towards it. I feared that if conditions were to worsen, I might have trouble turning the car around later. So, I scraped the ice off the car and made to turn it around; predictably, it moved through the snow like a trooper and turned without problem.

You'd think that I would have left well enough alone at that point, but something possessed me to drive it all of the way up the driveway to the road. Actually, I know what it was. I wanted to have another look at the road; I was hoping against hope that the ice was melting. It was an impossibly foolish hope, of course, but there you have it.

I got to the road, saw how bad it was, put the car in reverse, and … and ended up lodged in a snow bank. I could have shot myself.

How could an experienced driver end up in a snow bank, you ask. It was the hood! Remember: I had pulled it over my head to ward off the rain? However, as I turned my head to reverse the car, the hood got in my way, and I decided to shove it down. The short few seconds that it took me to snatch at the hood proved to be all the time that I needed to lose my concentration and dive off the cleared portion of the drive and into the snow bank. You can probably imagine how furious I was with myself, but the damage was done, and I was stuck — firm and deep.

As it turns out, things got worse before they got better. When you're stuck, you need a shovel. I dashed back to the house and up the slippery back steps to grab the shovel. As quickly as I dashed up the steps, my descent was even quicker. My legs flew out from under me, and I landed on my back with a jarring thud. This is not recommended operating procedure for an aging back with degenerating discs.

Let me cut the rest of the story short. Suffice it to say that all five people in the house got soaked totally in the rain before we were able to collectively extricate the car from the snow. Wet coats, hats, and gloves have been lying all about the farmhouse all day doing their best to dry out.

The rain and snow have since stopped, but we'll have company for another night and will try our best to get them to the bus stop tomorrow.

Ain't winter grand?


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