We New Englanders are moving into pre-spring. With temperatures in the 40s for a couple days, many of us have a bit of a lift in our step, smiling and soaking in the cool air. Until we hit black ice and fall on our ass. I love the snow, and I much prefer snow season to the season of Melt. The below-normal cold temperatures has kept our driveway snow-packed for the last couple months. With a good pair of boots, my feet stay warm and my body stays upright with a layer of snow on the ground.
But Melt is a different story. Melt is the warm sun during the day and hearing the crash of the icicles in the late afternoon. After a few days of melt, these are all gone now.
However, at sunset, the ground proves its power and within a couple short hours, black ice replaces the wet shallow puddles. Given the ground has spent months below freezing, one whimsical sunny afternoon is not going to break its freezing hold.
Our snow banks are much the same. During the month of February, we would sink up to our thighs if we walked on the snow banks. Now, with the Melt, the snowbanks are solid. The sound of the van bumping the snow banks while making three-point turns in our driveway used to be a gentle “sploosh.” Now it’s more of hard crunch that leaves me wondering if it was a tail light or snow bank that gave way.
On ice, sensible shoes are only those that might have spikes on the bottom. I ventured out to my book club last night in shoes with rubber soles. I might as well have been wearing skis. The driveway to the hostess’ house looked clear. I parked near the back door and opened my van door into a snow bank. I wobbled between the bank and my van, leaning on the van like a crutch. A little of the sand and salt encrusting the van would undoubtedly land on my clothes.
At the end of the evening, two hours later, five of us exited the same back door and gingerly made our way toward our cars. “We are using your van to balance, Linda!” I replied, “Sorry about the dirt!” as I rounded the front of my van. Then it hit. Or rather I hit it: the black ice. I waddled over it and placed a foot onto the sloping snow bank for surer footing. I slipped and yipped. “Are you OK, Linda?” Yes. I continued dancing on the iced-over snow bank until the maneuver landed me spread eagle against the driver’s door. I had made it. Only my back was against the door that I needed to open.
I stood still, except for the belly laugh that was shaking my core. As I steadied myself, I heard the other women crunching their way around their car. I immediately recognized the sound that interrupted the steady crunch. “Splooonch!” A slow slide down the side of a frozen snow bank. Steadying myself against the door, I turned my head to the left and saw Samantha’s silhouette sitting against the snow bank. She was facing the driver’s door of her car. “Are you OK, Samantha?” Without hesitation, Samantha replied, “Yes, I’m fine.” The tone was of ice exasperation.
I flailed out and away and spun to grab the handle of my van door. My body quaked with the hilarity of it all. We were living a fast action, slapstick video. Safely but not gracefully, I landed behind the wheel and let one of those uncontrollable laughs fully live its life.
The women in my book club are gracious and graceful. And now, wet and dirty from my van and from snow banks that look like this in the daylight.
We are hardy New Englanders.
(This winter is Defying Logic!)