I can totally relate to this Sinclair Lewis quote. Winter is a full time job! When I tell people that we moved here from California the response I often get is “Oh, I could never live there, I’d miss the seasons!” Ha! Not me. Winter is a very taxing, expensive and time consuming season. It makes nearly everything harder. Driving, paying utility bills, taking care of animals, staying warm, getting things (food, water, trash, recycling, etc) to and from the house (we can’t drive to our house – too slippery on the dirt driveway up the hill) – it’s all that much more arduous in the cold and snow.
Last week (on Valentine’s Day) it started to snow. My kids’ (rural) schools let out 2 hours early so that the buses could get everyone home safely. The school at which I teach is urban – they finished out the entire school day. By the time I left around 3:30 PM it was coming down hard and fast and I still needed to run by the grocery store and gas station before hitting the highway. The trip home was slow and the closer I got to our little country town the slower it became until at about 2 miles out it came to a standstill. It took nearly an hour to inch those 2 miles. On the other side of town is a big hill – it’s steep going up and steep coming down and every time it snows someone slides off the side. Once I got through town I opted for the narrow backwoods road which although curvy has much smaller hills. It was still snowing hard and it was difficult to see where the edge of the road was so when a snowplow came blazing around a curve in front of me and I edged over to give him room I went straight into the ditch!
Luckily only my front right tire was off the road so with a little back and forth motion I was able to pull myself out and continue on my way. Still a bit shaken I crawled along at a cautious pace with the windshield wipers flipping back and forth at a furious pace trying to keep enough of the glass clear for me to view the road. I’ll admit after the snowplow incident I was keeping to the center of the road – ditches line the road on both sides and filled with snow they look like part of the road. The locals drive a lot faster than I do on these back roads even in bad weather and as I rounded a curve I met up with one coming from the opposite direction. He hit his brakes and immediately started to slide sideways towards me; I had nowhere to go so I clenched my teeth and waited for the impact – and our cars cleared each with about 2 inches to spare. If I could have pulled off and waited for my trembling to subside I would have. But there was nowhere to pull off to and the snow was just getting worse so I kept driving. When I finally reached the safety of my relative’s driveway I was so shaky that I could hardly manage to carry the groceries up the hill to the house. The house where I was met with outside chores still to be done and a utility bill that matched my monthly wage when I had a job! Yes, winter is an occupation around here.
While we are currently enjoying some sunshine and warmer temps (it’s supposed to get up to 50 today), I’ve been warned not to put away the winter coats and scarves just yet. Next week it’s back to single digits at night. I could quite happily miss winter!