So, we got a little over a foot of snow on Tuesday.
I had a bunch of running around I was supposed to have been doing on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but was able to re-schedule all of it. It’s not that I can’t drive in the snow. It’s that I don’t like driving in the snow and I sure don’t like how other people drive in it! If I can possibly get out of it, I do. When I can, I’ll take my bike or the city bus before I’ll fire up the car.
I grew up in northwestern Nebraska. Part of learning to drive was learning how to drive in the snow. Much like the art of parallel parking, it was one of the things my Dad took me out and trained me on until I could do it competently.
There was a marshy area in our west pasture near Dad’s famous scrapyard where by mid-winter, it would transform into an admirable ice field. We went down there with his old Rabbit and he had me get used to steering into a slide. He had me practice taking off in second gear to minimize wheel spin and taught me how to brake gradually so that I could get a feel for exactly how long it takes to get a car stopped on an icy surface.
He also taught me the joys of ice-hooning, of getting the car up to about 15 mph and jerking on the handbrake and of cramping the steering wheel and giving it a bootful. On a nice ice field, a front-wheel-drive car without power steering transforms from a trundling little runabout into a surprisingly competent means for raising hell.
But, just because I know how to drive around in shit weather doesn’t mean I’m willing to do so if I can get out of it.
While I was still in high school, even after I’d gotten my driver’s license, if the weather report looked shitty, I’d catch the school bus. This served a dual purpose. Firstly, I didn’t have to drive in the snow and ice and risk wrecking my car or my Mom’s car. Secondly, the school buses generally took FOREVER on snowy days, because they had to go up and down all sorts of unpaved back-country roads. Sometimes the bus would even get stuck. If you took the bus to school on a snowy day, the chance was good that you’d get to school late. Very. Sometimes, the school would close early if the weather turned too nasty, and so you’d turn around and get right back on the bus. When you are a lazy teenager, there is nothing better. I’d pop my Walkman headphones on and go the hell to sleep. Didn’t matter there were a herd of grade-schoolers hooting and hollering and jouncing about all around me. I couldn’t give a shit. Most of the lifestyle choices I made in highschool centered around getting out of class, and riding the bus on winter storm days was definitely one of them.
As much as I hate cold weather (and that is a lot) I do like riding my bike in the snow, though by February or March-ish I am so done with the weather. I’ve been building up a hell of a cabin fever this winter being as Joseph is still too little to go in the Burley trailer. At this point, three sweaters, a balaclava, my windfront tights, a pair of lobster gloves, and my big, clumky insulated boots are seeming appealing.
Here’s an old photo from the archives – my sister and I in 8th grade and 10th grade respectively. We had a snow-day off school because the county roads were snowed over so deep, so we spent the morning building whacky snowmen on and around our old swingset. This one had a mohawk, the one on the slide had two heads, and one had been built to sit on the swing and it had an extra-large butt.