Given the weather the past couple weeks it is hard for to me believe that I once enjoyed the snow. It still makes for pretty scenery, but that’s about as far it goes.
When I was a youngster though, I could not wait to get outside when there was snow on the ground. I suppose that had something to do with the fact that regardless of the weather, we rarely stayed inside when we could be outside. And, when we’re young, snow is an exciting new phenomenon and we don’t have worry about driving and such.
One of the first times I can remember playing in the snow came when I was just a little fella. I was building a snowman all by myself, and nearing its completion. But it was getting dark and despite my pleas, my mother made me come inside, telling me I could finish the snowman the next day. Before I could get back outside the temperature suddenly rose, and the snow on the ground and my little snowman melted away.
Looking back, I think it must have been a warning of things to come.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of fun sled riding and such back in the day and later with my kids. I even earned a few bucks when I was a teenager thanks to the snow. But Mother Nature and her winter white stuff have not always been kind to me.
Take the time in high school when a bunch of friends and I got a little bored with the normal sled riding and tubing. So we decided it would be fun to find a large tractor tire inner tube about eight of us could ride at the same time. To add the fun, we built a ramp near the bottom of a steep hill before we took the first ride down. It was fun, until we hit the ramp. About that time bodies were thrust into the air in every direction imaginable with arms and legs splayed this way and that. When we landed in a pile of intertwined body parts it did not feel good.
One of my buddies got up spitting blood, and another had a broken bone. That was our first and last ride on the tractor tube.
There was another high school incident, back in the late ’70s when we had some really big snows. I was driving around with a girlfriend, bumping tall snow drifts alongside the road with my car. She did not like it and told me to stop. I thought it was fun and kept going. Next thing I knew my car sitting atop one of those large drifts. A couple hours later, after calls to friends for help from the home of a stranger and a lot of pointless digging, a county highway department truck driver pulled us off the drift. The rest of the date was not so fun.
A few years back, after I got off work and my family was not home, I decided to drive around and admire a new snowfall that was still coming down. It was a peaceful drive, with not a lot of snow on the road, until I topped a very small incline. It was a back road and I was driving slow, but in the blink of an eye I saw the snow was drifted deeply on the other side of the incline. I had a split second to decide if I should try to plow through it or stop.
Good thing I didn’t try to plow though it. I hit the brakes, but a few feet later the front end of my Chevy Malibu was buried in the middle of the road. It only took a couple escape tries to realize I was going nowhere. To top it off, I was dressed to the nines that day, complete with slick-bottom leather shoes and such, so walking was not much of an option, especially with the snow coming down hard, the wind howling, and the drifts around my car literally growing deeper by the minute. Besides, I could not leave my car blocking the road.
Thanks goodness for cell phones. My first call was to a friend with a four-wheel drive pickup. He answered and said he’d be there as quick as he could. It seemed like it took longer than it probably did for him and his son to arrive. When they showed up, and saw how I was dressed, they told me to get back in the car. Then they hooked me up, pulled me out of the drifts and sent me on my way.
Two or three years later I was on my way home from officiating a few basketball games in Greenfield. There was a few inches of snow on the ground, but the roads were not bad. It was dark, I was tired, and believe I must have nodded off, at least partially, for a time. Because all off a sudden there was stop sign at the end of New Petersburg Pike, and I did not have time to stop. I tried to turn, but instead slid across U.S. Route 50, down a snowy hill on the other side, and came to rest at the bottom with my car still running and pointing toward Hillsboro.
I did not think there was any way possible I could move my car. So I called my wife, then AAA, and sat there and considered my plight. About that time two strangers appeared out of nowhere beside my driver’s side window. The snow was fairly deep, but they said they thought that they could push me backward toward Clear Creek Road where they had parked, probably 100 or more yards away. It took more than a little effort on their part, and help from a deputy sheriff, but we eventually made it. Then off into the night they slipped without me ever knowing their names.
Last week I awoke to find someone had plowed my driveway. My wife called a neighbor who has done the same thing many times. But it was not him this time, and we still do not know who it was.
Then this week another neighbor plowed my driveway without ever being asked.
So while snow can be a hassle, it can be beautiful, too, just like all kind souls who have saved my behind more times than I care to remember.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.