The winter of 2007-2008 is noteworthy for two reasons: one being a memorable time for the community around Rathdrum, Idaho, and one for me personally.
First of all, we had a record one hundred ninety inches of killing-me-softly snow; and second, it was the first time in my entire life I’ve completely lost my voice. I don’t mean the “laryngitis” kind of lost it, I mean a desperate to scream my lungs out yet not managing so much as a squeak, kind of lost it. As you will see, both these things happened in the same day.
It all started with that snow storm, the absolute dumping of eighteen inches of white powder on the cabin, on the cars, on the roads. Most importantly – the roads. This was in addition to the twenty seven inches we were already dealing with. My husband, Zeke, had just shoveled and cleared the way for me four hours prior, making it quite manageable if only I would have left.
But then it started up with a vengeance. I kept cleaning and packing things up, believing it would let up in a minute and then I’d head out the door. A minute turned into an hour, then another one, finally two more.
Zeke kept calling, making sure I was on the road before it would be impossible. But I wasn’t. I was hesitating; waiting for it to stop, and then it was too late. Apparently it wasn’t ever going to let up.
I was a good snow driver but this was ridiculous. The phone rang again. “Yes, Zeke,” I answered irritably. “I’m on my way. Don’t worry.” I wasn’t though. I was just about out the door, but not quite.
“Good. How is it?” He asked.
“Umm, it’s tricky,” I semi lied as I shoved stuff in the back of my SUV and ran into the cabin for the rest. “I need to hang up and concentrate. I’ll call you if I have a problem.”
I could feel my blood pressure rising and my heart rate picking up. Why hadn’t I left earlier when I was supposed to? When I’d promised him I would?
Zeke hated worrying about me. He liked things according to plan and my natural knack was to mess up the plan. It drove him crazy and I have to admit, it was understandable.
I finally shoved the key in the door and locked the place up, took one last look around, and climbed into my trusty old 4Runner, Peggy Sue. Times like this made me very grateful for four wheel drive. I shifted into gear and crept slowly down what I believed to be the driveway, wipers going full blast as well as the heat. I was grateful for familiarity. Otherwise I may just as well been out in an open field.
The bottom of the driveway spilled gently onto the main lake road which Peggy Sue and I managed to slide right on to. Thank goodness no cars were coming. Great, I thought. Not just snow but ice too.
How did the day get away from me, I wondered, feeling a bit of Zeke’s frustration with my inclination to procrastinate. I could kill four hours in what I thought was about fifteen minutes. Unbelievable.
The lake road was a vacant canvas. No tracks to keep us company, no lines to stay inside of. It rolled out before us like a white carpet, completely unblemished, all ours. I didn’t want it. I wanted other cars, tracks, a snow plow. Where was everyone?
We proceeded, me and my trusty old SUV, slowly, testing the brakes now and then. Sometimes we actually stopped but mostly we barely managed to slow down. At this pace it could take all night to get home. Yet the freeway was sure to be in good shape. It always was. We just needed to get that far and then it would be clear sailing.
“Just stay on the road old girl,” I mumbled to both Peggy Sue and myself, “focus.”
The heater had always been a good one and it wasn’t failing me now. I wiped either melting snow or sweat from my forehead and turned the temperature down. Things were looking up a bit. There was still no one to be seen, but the car was managing well and I was getting my confidence back. I turned on the radio and found the news station and settled in, relaxing my shoulders and turning my neck from side to side to release some of the tension. This wasn’t so bad after all, I decided.
The lake road was a bugger but I could nearly drive it in my sleep so that was a definite advantage. Yet it was eight miles of winding, hilly terrain, lined with hidden driveways and steep embankments all embraced by towering evergreens lending too much shade even on the sunniest of days. One could never be too careful. I’d come close to hitting too many animals emerging from the shadows as they step out to cross the road at that last minute. Stops my heart every time.
So I was giving all of my attention to the road as I listened to the weather man assure us the worst was yet to come and no one should be on the road for any reason short of an emergency. I tried calling Zeke to let him know I was safe and on my way but the cell reception is spotty on a good day let alone on a day like this. I’d try him again in a while I decided, and let him know the road was really not that bad.
Yet it was. It was really bad.
To Be Continued Next Thursday!