I have to say, the snow falling outside my fire-warmed home makes me all seasonal-sappy. Amazing what a coat of white can do for the psyche.

I went for my first AAH-IT’S-WINTER-AND-I’M-TAKING-A-WALK walk this morning. It required boots – and much orange, given my temporal proximity to the midpoint of gun deer season – and mittens. It was lovely. The crunch and squeak and shloosh of wet, packy snow was lovely under my feet. The falling white curtains were lovely to my eyes. Even the melting snow on my face was lovely to embrace.

I’d say we had 3-4 inches at that particular point of the morning, but it was/is so wet it’s hard to tell as it collapses down on itself. I trudged back home and jumped into the van, for that was, after all, the purpose of my exiting the house in the first place. Into town I went, mayonnaise my mission before our one-horse grocery closed its doors for the holiday. I delighted in the greasy roads (with the appropriate amount of early season driving paranoia) and winter wonderland before me. No plows, no sand trucks, no sign of the powers that be and their taming of winter.

Not only did I obtain my mayo, I scored an early bag of circular holiday pretzels as well. Those little buggers – a critical component in the most coveted Christmas cookie treats – can sometimes be quite elusive when you’re needing them most, so I snatched them right up and headed for the checkout.

The plan was to stop at my folks’ abode to check on their hot tub and furnace while they’re traveling, but the greasy roads proved more than I was prepared for. I charged their hill twice before I gave up. Tomorrow, the ranch will be inspected.

It is worth noting that at the second charge, it did occur to me that the hill leading to my own home may prove an even more impressive obstacle. I even took an alternate route home to give myself a better start on the preliminary hill-before-the-hill. That was a good idea. I made it, but only by the skin of my baldy-bald tires.

The actual hill leading to my home loomed large over the landscape and I could feel the sweat breaking free under my giant orange parka. As I turned the corner I knew we’d be in for a row, that hill and I.

The view from the top

The ditch on our side of the road is steep. It’s more a cliff than a ditch.  Given its out of sight/out of mind vantage point, it has been the neighborhood dumping grounds for many decades of Colfaxian junk-flinging habits. What it is that compels otherwise responsible human beings to drive out to the sticks and dump their crap off a steep hill in some delusional belief that no one will mind, I just can’t fathom. I am not the first to write about the frustrations of residing at the magnetic center of people’s baser instincts, nor will I be the last. Thankfully, our particular ditch has lost some of its gravitational pull, and most of what lives there has been there for many moons, relatively free of recent additions. Washing machines, tires, and toilets from days gone by all live happily together down there. Rolls and rolls of barbed-wire fence protect the junkyard estate. Each year the kids mound expeditions to the ditch – archaeological digs – to see what they can unearth. The salvage yard-bound van in the driveway is currently being filled with many of their collected discoveries. Mangled roaster pans and tricycles from the ’58 tornado, cattle stanchions from previous generations of manual milkers, and my personal favorite, an ancient, rusted, yet still perfectly readable ‘No Dumping’ sign.

I charged that hill seven times. Seven times I backed back down, slow and steady, one eye always on the precipice to my right. Both directions are treacherous as the crown of the road – or possibly the aforementioned magnetic pull – insists on directing you ditchward at every slip and slide, so I was out there for almost a half hour navigating my seasonally-shell-shocked van up and down Going-to-the-Sun Road. That seventh time it occurred to me – as my fifth near miss with death-by-rollover made me pee a little – that I should maybe surrender and just walk up. There was a 4WD truck up there perfectly capable of towing this weasly little van up that hill, and a kid with a driver’s license perfectly capable of manning the rear-end of such a caravan. Why was I so damned stubborn?

I parked the van in the ditch at the bottom of the hill, as visible as I could make it to oncoming traffic from all three directions, and gathered myself – and my mayo – for the hike up the logging trail.

I made it about 30 steps from the flashing front-end when I was taken wistfully back a handful of years to an evening when my fireman hubby ditched a van much like this one a mere hundred feet from where this one currently sat. He may or may not have been in an official rush to get to an official fire. Similar weather conditions, only we were well into winter, so the blanket was feet deep where the fireman with a fire under his rear buried himself. I turned and looked back at my charge.

The problem was, I had no idea where to hook the tow straps to that beast that wouldn’t bust something. Back in my memory, Scott did know where to safely hook up to an earlier incarnation of this same van, yet still managed to misjudge and hook right up to what we would soon learn was the radiator. Cracked ‘er right in half.

Back to the perplexing present day, I was not ready to toss my $900 van to the curb quite yet. I squinted up at the hill, now scarred with 15 of my tracks. I squinted back at the van.

One more shot.

And on approach number 8, my squeaky slick tires found just enough purchase to make it all the way up to the mailbox. I did not pee. I did not roll to my death. And I did not endanger my radiator or any other fragile bits of my van with my tow-strap moxy.

I did utter an early entry in the Thanksgiving Day records. Amen.

Though I’m not entirely sure why, I still love snow.

Drive safely,




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