The Unwanted Guest
I have a love/hate relationship with snow: I love to hate it. Snow is the guest who overstays her welcome, arriving in such an innocuous way, appearing as this beautiful, light-hearted debutante, when in reality, she is nothing but an old battle-ax.
Snow is deceiving in her innocence and approach. She gives the impression she is here to do nothing but intoxicate our senses, when the truth is, by the time the storm blows itself out, we may as well be drunk for all the mobility we have, either on foot, or via motor vehicle.
I speak from 35 years of mountain experience, my home located on a south-west facing slope. It is a sitting duck when it comes to withstanding those Gulf-of-Alaska storms that drop down from the North, and bring the Arctic influence with them.
My memory takes me back to the first week in January, 1982, to a post-Holiday gathering up on Bell Springs Road, at the Big House, my folks’ mountain home. We knew in advance that snow was expected, but what we actually encountered, as soon as we got up past the 2,500 foot level, was a raging blizzard.
Gluten-Free Mama and I were traveling from San Jose in our 1972 Chevy lova machine. Two-thirds of the “N” from Nova had broken off GF Mama’s whip, but call it what you will, fortified with the snow chains I had brought along from United Auto Stores, my place of employment, we were able to inch our way along the ridge until we reached Mama’s.
This being in the pre-cellphone days, we had to feel our way along. We knew better than to try and drive down to the house, instead parking de lova machine up on the Bell. It turned out to be smart, because neighbor Harry had attempted to drive his four-wheel drive vehicle down to the house, against the advice of the inhabitants, and it had bottomed out in the four-feet high drifts.
The snow was just being pushed ahead like a plow, building up beneath the little Jeep-like unit, until the wheels were spinning but unable to gain traction because they were too far off the ground. And there it sat for the next week or so, before Harry could extricate it.
We had to make more than one trip from the Bell down to the Big House, but we had a toboggan to help after the first trip. Needless to say, maneuvering around in snow that was from one to four feet deep, or deeper in the bad drifts, was fun but also intimidating.
We were decked out in city apparel, with inadequate shoes, jackets, gloves and hats, but we were also infused with the sense of being part of something that was unique. By definition unique means “one-of-a-kind” and this blizzard certainly qualified, with the snow being driven horizontally by fierce winds, accounting for the deep drifts.
Snow can be so tantalizingly gorgeous, that one loses track of the more practical side of matters: You can freeze to death if you are not paying attention, and you get twisted around in your travels. Scary stuff.
The irony of our voyage up the Bell on this occasion, is that we were traveling caravan-style with Bro Matchu, who was driving the original Limo, a 2WD, 1964 Dodge truck, without chains. As we made our way up Bell Springs, and the traction got worse, Matt had eased the truck over to the edge at a wide spot in the road, and parked it.
He and those with him piled into de lova machine and we continued on our way. The thought did cross my mind, through the adrenalin rush, that there was no guarantee that the Chevy Nova was going to make it, either, but we did.
We celebrated, we waited out the storm and gradually folks started to make their way back down off the mountain. GF Mama and I had planned to stay for a week, so we weren’t worried. As a matter of fact, we were working, once the sun came out and it stopped storming.
Specifically, we were transporting by hand about ten wood sash windows, from Papa’s barn, where we had originally parked in the storm, down to my recently-constructed, 16-by-20-foot cabin. It was the one with plywood nailed over the window openings.
To get from Papa’s barn to my cabin, we had to walk along Bell Springs for about two football fields, and then drop down on our driveway, another two football fields, until you reached the cabin. Had the road been clear, we could have piled all the windows into a pickup, and hauled them down. As it was we made five trips, laboriously making our way along the Bell, where the snow plow would have helped matters, and then onto the driveway, where we had to forge our own path.
Why bother, you might ask? Why not just wait until the next time we were up and move them all at once? The answer is because I wanted to work on preparing the frames that each would require, when inserting the whole assembly into an opening that was cut bigger than the windows themselves.
GF Mama valiantly battled the elements, just as anxious as I was to make further progress on our little home-to-be, even though we were uncertain as to the actual date that our move would occur. We just wanted to be ready, even if we were unclear as to why we were getting ready.
Hindsight being 20/20, we now know that GF Mama was already carrying a tiny HeadSodBuster inside her, his arrival date being the following September, so she was probably about three weeks along.
Like mother, like son. HeadSodBuster himself, has been carrying the weight for a long while now, an uphill political battle through raging storms, that cannot be delayed.