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Monday, July 30, 2012

A Winter’s Tale for a Hot Summer Day


A number of years ago, back when cell phones were only in the movies and I was still invincible, I felt it important that I drive from one tiny town to another during a blizzard.

There was a perfectly legitimate reason for this, as I recall, and it involved a good friend and a good many beers.

Do they have blizzards where you are?  They don’t?  You should try one sometime!  Blizzards are a combination of falling snow, colder-than-necessary temperatures, strong winds, and serpentine drifts that obscure the road.

Consider it a test of your fortitude, your driving skills, your imagination, and your intelligence.

Can you handle the stress of not seeing more than a couple feet in front of you?

Can you keep the car on the road?

Can you see the road? Can you see the exit?

What in the world are you doing out in a blizzard, anyway?


All of your abilities will be tested – some of them (your intelligence, perhaps) just by getting in the car in the first place.

Believe me when I tell you that the majority of the time there’s nowhere you need to go during a blizzard except to the closet for another blanket.

Or perhaps to the fridge.

But like I said: I used to be invincible.

I was invincible right up to two miles outside of town, when my ’74 Ford LTD, a car built to carry you and seven of your best friends comfortably, slid, ever so slowly, off the side of the road, sideways, and down into a ditch.

Hmmm.

Now, when you find yourself with your tail pipe in the snow, you also find yourself seeing the beauty in what you should’ve seen earlier and you turn the car off and sit in the cold, gray silence, considering the possibility that you may be mentally deficient and that those closest to you, for some reason, have been reluctant to say so.  You think about the setting sun and the way the temperature will drop.

You think about your friend, and her beer, waiting just eight miles away.

This is sometimes the part in the story where you go on to read of the writer’s slow and painful demise, how they found her body, the way her last words were recorded in lipstick on the interior of the car.

The ketchup packets that served as her last meal.

Either that or it’s the part where a large red pick-up comes down this same deserted county road and how four muscular, meat-and-potatoes Wisconsin boys in seed-and-feed caps pull over, jump out in jeans and sweatshirt and head towards your car.

“Ma’am?” says the biggest one, holding his arms out.

Yes, yes, please! I unwind my window and hold my arms up for Farm Boy #1 who lifts me, easily, out of the car and out of the ditch, and places me inside the cab of the truck.

My feet never even touch the ground.

He shuts the door, and Farm Boys One through Four step down into the ditch, each of them taking a corner of my car. They lift the LTD as if it is hollow, step carefully up the shallow ditch, and place the car back on the road.

And then they refuse to take my money.

And half an hour later, I am at Paula’s house, where we drink beer, play Scrabble, and go out for breakfast in the morning. 



I just love Wisconsin. If you’re ever going to slide off the road, I suggest you do it there.

49 comments:

Robbie Grey said...

Where I'm from, not only do we have blizzards, we have drop-offs of hundreds, even thousands, feet. It makes the prospect of driving in a storm that much more entertaining. I don't recommend it, even for beer. Wine or whiskey might be a different story, though.

Teresa Evangeline said...

OH, yes, this most definitely rings a bell. I sometimes miss being Invincible, when getting together with friends in the middle of a blizzard was the only way to get through one. One Farm Boy can be very helpful. Four can work miracles. Or so it seems, and that's good (I just typed god) enough for me.

Vicus Scurra said...

Where I'm from we get about three quarters of an inch of snow once or twice a year, and the country shuts down.
It is a long way to travel just to experience sliding off the road, so, just this once, I will not be following your advice.

skoots1mom said...

not many snow storms / blizzards here, except in 1993...and i went back to the closet for another quilt ;)

haphazardlife said...

D'you think I could keep some Wisconsin farm boys in the trunk of my car in winter for just events?

joeh said...

No money fine, but not even a phone number?

Nice story, nice ending.

Pearl said...

Keeping a Farm Boy in the trunk is an excellent idea and would've made a better ending to the story. :-)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

Been in the blizzard, kept it on the road...but....if I had seen those farm boys I would have made a point of sliding gracefully sideways into the ditch. Yes please.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Pearl! You sound quite flustered recalling it. Did you go back and do it again to you could be rescued by hunks for a second time? Roth x

ellen abbott said...

Yeah, sometimes people will come through for you when you need it.

We don't have blizzards here but we do get rain storms that come down so hard and fast you can't see the road. White knuckle drives is what we call them. And then some jackass will go speeding by you like it's a sunny day.

Geo. said...

Blizzard or beer --tough decision. I remember being invincible but still having trouble finding my body. At least, after a party, I could find it myself.

Pat Tillett said...

Yep, youthful exuberance strikes again! We're all lucky it's not always fatal...
Blizzards? Heck, we don't even have winter!

jenny_o said...

Not for me your miraculous and lovely rescue.

No, I'd be the one written up a day later in the paper as having no last words when I froze/starved to death, seeing as I don't wear/carry lipstick and use all my ketchup immediately when I buy fries. Sniff.

Amy said...

Ya gotta love Wisconsin hospitality! While the accent is horrible, the heart is pure.

TexWisGirl said...

made me miss my homeland - and the farm boys of my youth. :)

CarrieBoo said...

Having driven back and forth along the 401 in blizzards to party-it-up with so-called mates, all I can say is, I must have been mad. There are no friendly, robust farmboys 'round these here parts; otherwise, it might have been worth the fretful trip.

Laraine Eddington said...

I've done some sliding in my time but am currently retired from blizzard travel. I've been rescued by a beekeeper with similar skills.

vanilla said...

S V F M. And thus it is that I and 2 million of your fellow Minnesotans run off to South Texas for the winter. And you are one lucky lady, given the experience you just related.

Hannah Denski said...

I hibernate fo Winter, full stop. : ) x

L-Kat said...

Oh those 'Sconny boys are so nice! :) The worst blizzard I ever drove in was in college. The campus was closed, you couldn't see a foot in front of you. My roommates and I were out of alcohol. Obviously drinking is the only activity for a college kid to do during a blizzard. We couldn't walk to the liquor store because of the -45* temps. So I drove. Luckily, I had the route memorized and no one else was stupid enough to be out and about. The liquor store clerk even gave us free samples of booze because we were his only customers all day. Good times!

Leenie said...

Nothin' like corn fed farm boys when it comes to moving machinery, especially cars stuck in a drift. The next best thing is a mom in a mini van full of high school kids on the way to class.

Leenie said...

p.s. the cold memories on a hot day were most welcome.

Shelly said...

Farm Boys are worth more than their weight in gold. :)

Macy said...

back when cell phones were only in the movies and I was still invincible

Hell yeah Pearl. That really is the best summary of what changes over the years.

And we have blizzards here - and many workmates and friends had to spend the night in their card a year or so back when central Scotland froze up, so let's hear it for those farmhands!

Macy said...

Car dammit CAR not CARD!

Ian Lidster said...

Gotta love them big farm boys. What a nifty little story. And I don't want to be hearing about you driving in no more blizzards. I love you too much for that.

Jinksy said...

Goodness! A whole gang of he men... ♥

Joanne Noragon said...

I remember being invincible. It's good you were in Wisconsin where Farm Boys step out of blizzards.

Carrie Lynne said...

I'll take a farm boy or two.

sage said...

You know, most people only experience blizzards at Dairy Queen! Nice writing, Pearl.

Stephen Hayes said...

What a great heart-warming story. Those were your guardian angels that day.

Gigi said...

We don't do blizzards here. But, of course, when we get the two or three inches I do act like it's a blizzard and stay in....unless we are out of wine. Then one of us has to go out and you know it won't be me.

What?! He's the one that grew up in New York and I'm the one that grew up in Texas. It only makes sense that he'd be the one to go.

Buttons said...

Oh yeah for farm boys we have them and blizzards in Canada too:) Maybe not American beer oh but I think now Canadian Beer is owned by American beer. Oh no more progress what is the world coming too. Great post made me laugh again. B

The Elephant's Child said...

No blizzards here. Except in a teeny, weeny part of Oz that regularly gets snow - or at least I think they get blizzards.
Wonderful story, wonderful farm boys, great post. Thank you.

Ms Sparrow said...

And, I bet those sweet farm boys don't even remember what heroes they were on that day!

WrathofDawn said...

HELLO, WISCONSIN!

Sorry. Had to do it.

Mom of A and a said...

If I were you, I would gave gone back to do it again the next day!! Lol about the ketchup packets!!!

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

I also was once invincible and a blizzard seldom stopped me from what I wanted to do. Then a Mac truck hit me. I found out that I could break in so many ways.

my diary said...

nice post thanks for sharing i found you thrue other followers looking for to visit more blessings across the miles

Tempo said...

Never seen a blizzard, never seen snow fall from the sky (weird concept)
Ever seen a dust storm?

Symdaddy said...

Yesterday was one of those all day/all night jobs. That's why I'm comment #41.

Some years back, I experienced a blizzard of the deadliest kind!

It was dark and the unusual warmth of that winter's day had created a fog that would have needed a sabre, rather than a knife, to cut it.

As I crawled through the roads of the Sennelager Ranges (military training area) my passengers were holding on tight to their seatbelts because they were convinced that it was only a matter of time before we hit an oncoming car.

It was only an eight or nine mile trip, so we thought 'What the hell!' and went.

Then it began to snow.

Within minutes, and completely out of nowhere, the wind came up and began to buffet the car (an Audi 80) and driving the snow at the windscreen like a whit wall.

Several times, due to my vision being limited to two or three metres, I felt a bump as we caught the edge of one of the ditches on either side of the road.

To cut a long story short ... and I don't do that very often ... it took us nearly four hours to get home!

Without a scratch, I might add!

Roly Clu said...

Great post. You're only young once. Probably the best though :)

Lynn said...

We've had some freak snowstorms here in the south. The city just shuts down and there is constant news coverage. Me - I try to stay home when that happens. :)

Linda O'Connell said...

Stuck on a two lane mountain road with sheer drop off in Alaska, six months pregnant and the car starts sliding towards the cliff. That was the one and only blizzard, and I lived to tell about it. You gave me a chill there. Thanks, we're having a heat wave.

River said...

There's times when I could use a meat and potatoes farm boy or two myself.

ThreeOldKeys said...

I wonder how Farm Boys 1 through 4describe this event on their own blogs.

They probably regale their friends with the tale, at holiday gatherings.

savannah said...

a blizzard tale? possible lipstick message bidding adieu to the cruel fate that stranded you? rescue by farm boy? hell, sugar, i have over 150 photos from the night it snowed in savannah for FIVE WHOLE MINUTES!!! (yeah, your story is far better!) ;~) xoxoxoxox

Diane said...

Okay. I'm ready. I have my car. My bald tires. AND my ketsup packets. Bring on the four strong lads in seed and feed caps!

Susan in the Boonies said...

This post fulfills all my fantasies about you Pearl.

About you, and aMURica.

This, I believe.

If you're stuck in a ditch in a blizzard in Wisconsin, you will not be reduced to eating ketchup packets.

Because, THIS? THIS is a MURica.