63 / 365 – Late Snow Again

prairie tree

LARS NILSSON

It snowed more than I expected overnight. This time of year, you never know what may blow in: an Alberta clipper — they just blast through here and dump snow sometimes — or a chinook that warms everything up and melts whatever’s on the ground. Sometimes it’s just a snow storm, the kind we get all winter, that comes when people aren’t expecting it or are hoping the big snows are over. It’s not as cold as we get into March and the snows don’t blow as hard but some people have a harder time with them because they’re starting to argue with the season. They think they should be over, and why are we getting a new storm? You run into people at the store or at church and they’re not so cheerful.

My apartment is in an old carriage house, over the garage, but I don’t get the garage. You forget how nice it is to have a garage in the winter when you have to dig out your truck, scrape off all the windows. I just get enough snow off the hood, off the windows, so I know I’ll be able to see. It still took me fifteen minutes. I’ve got four-wheel-drive but I also had to dig out enough snow around the wheels that I could get going. It took me a lot time and I was covered with fine powder by the time I was done. I had thought it was beautiful when I stepped out my front door and scraped my way down the stairs, but by the time I had the truck backed into the street, I was grumbling about it. Heavy snow leaves a beautiful scene but it stops being pretty like a post card when you have to get out in it.

It was still dark as I made my way through town. I thought, anybody smart will be staying in this morning. Of course that does not include me. I should have set things up in the barn last night so I didn’t have to go out this morning. My mind when through a whole deck of complaints. Grumbling about the divorce — if I was still living on the farm, I’d have had these animals in the barn I could just walk back to. I wouldn’t have to be driving. Or I should have planned for this and taken care of them last night before it blew in, but I wasn’t paying attention, which it seems like I’m having trouble doing these days. Grumbling to myself about not having a garage. You get started thinking that way and it keeps adding up. Complaint on complaint. I was pretty generally grouchy in no time.

The snow was really deep through town as I crawled through. Everything was lit up by snow, I could have driven without my lights on. I headed north of town on the state highway. Hard to tell where the road was sometimes. There were hardly any tracks — didn’t look like anybody had been out overnight. I slowed way down and felt my way along, keeping around the middle of the markers on either side of the road. There was a light wind and the powder was blowing around, drifting, but I could still guess enough where the road was to stay on it. You can feel it too, so long as you’re going slow enough. It’s not as bad as some people think.

Not far outside of town, before the turnoff to the plant, I saw a car off the road. I hadn’t seen a single car since I left the house, so I just left the truck idling in the middle of the road. There road was up a little from the fields on either side and there was an embankment. The snow was deep as I stepped down that to the car, deeper than at my house even. It was the lee side of the road, so the wind was piling it up there, up along the car. It was pretty buried but I cleared off the windows and looked inside. Nobody in there. Maybe the car had been there for awhile, I don’t know. That’ll be a job, to pull that thing out now with a winch. Might wait and see if we get a thaw.

I got back in the truck and I had so much snow on my pants then, I was wondering why I hadn’t worn something to keep the snow off instead of just jeans. I had the heater on and the snow was melting off my boots, my pants, and I had a puddle going on the floor of the truck.

I turned out the county road to head out to the farm. It was really hard to see the road now, but I kind of know my way. Some people, even people who have grown up out here, think it’s dangerous to drive when it gets like this, when snow is blowing around enough that the shape of the ground seems to fold and shift. There are enough signs if you’re going along carefully, like the mile posts every few hundred yards, I can usually see the road. And if you can remember the road you saw yesterday, the one you know is still there, you can muddle through it. It’s not dangerous. You just have to know where you are, and have a little faith in your ability to see your way, even if you’re not seeing your way with your eyes all the time. Other senses you never use kick in. Your body knows where you are and where you need to be going. When you know a place, you have more wisdom than you think and it can get you through.

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2 thoughts on “63 / 365 – Late Snow Again

  1. Thank you, Niya. I’ve been thinking about your notes about the last lines … My first thought was, “Well, they do have to end on some kind of note.” I’ve been thinking about whether perhaps these short fragments are the structure on which I should build this, since they work in many ways better than the longer segments I’ve written. Thanks at least for getting me to consider that.

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