Spring hasn’t sprung yet in the Bustling Burg of Babbling Brooks, it just sort of made a phase transition from semi-solid to semi-liquid. The technical term for that would be: mush. During the day there has been a strange, not-gray pallor to the sky – unseen for months and months – and a frightening, butterscotchy, glowing thing suspended in it, which has been slowly eating up the snow and causing minor rivers to erupt all over the roads. Not only that, but our daily ration of snowfall has been temporarily suspended. I wonder if this is the beginning of the end? Was Chicken Little right? Did Oliver Twist ask for “more” one time too many?
My woodsy path to town has been utterly transformed, with long-buried features being disgorged by the snow and confusing all my points of reference. Fallen logs I used to cruise over the top of are becoming hurdles and the contours of the hills are shiftily slumping as drifts lose their density. In my yard all the detritus of last year’s building process are being revealed muddily, like an Easter Egg hunt, gone bad. I remember last fall, trying to find the energy to clean up the cast-off and left-over bits of boards, pipes, cartons and whatnot after the majority of the construction crew had abandoned ship, and then being heartily pleased when the snow came and covered it all up; out of sight, out of mind…until now. Sigh.
I’ve taken a load or two to the dump, but its still hard to get around for all the mud, which freezes overnight, creating long stretches of skating rink on putative roads. Then the next four or six inches of snow inevitably comes along, cleverly disguising the ice beneath. My UPS guy found this out the hard way. He valiantly attempted a delivery to my house the other day, and being unused to maneuvering the big brown, two wheel drive van on icy, inclined surfaces which might well serve as a practice course for the luge, got stuck in a snow bank. I had raced down the driveway to warn him off when I saw him turn onto the road below , but I didn’t make it in time. He did not employ the same wary, fog-coming-in-on-little-cat-feet maneuvers that typify my driving habits on that road, so I got to witness the big brown perform a four-wheel, skidding sort of triple-axle in slow motion before it planted itself resolutely into the snow bank, facing uphill, on glare ice.
Neither one of us was terribly pleased (he even less than I, since I got my package, containing that all-important tekmar controller for which I’d been waiting with bated breath). No matter how much those brown uniforms might flatter the male posterior protuberance, the men in brown, I’ve found, are not too thrilled about being here. Out here we have an irregular cast of UPS characters, this not being a particularly coveted route. Perhaps it has to do with the snow? None of them cared for the chore of chaining up to get to their customers, but this one appeared to have registered his disdain by not even carrying chains, though that is exactly what you need in a situation like this. It took a great deal of shoveling, a fair amount of disagreement about proper techniques and an utter divergence of opinion on the relative merits and abilities of four-wheel drive, but we eventually freed the big brown van.
That ice melted in the fullness of time, but more is on the way, as they’re calling for more snow tonight, which will melt during the days and freeze overnight. I do have a plan of attack for procuring an ounce of prevention, however. I call it playing Corps of Engineers. That involves standing around in the sun (when there is any) with a shovel and a beer, and digging little trenches across the road to channel the melt water onto the verge. I pretend that I’m draining the Everglades, and imagine the piercing eyes of a Florida panther tracking my every move from betwixt the steamy foliage whilst I whistle witlessly and tunelessly, leaning on my shovel and watching the water tinkle and sparkle down hill, denying it a future in ice. Then I imagine the thunderous blow to the back of my head wrought upon me by the sleek, resplendent animal and the blood running into my eyes as I lay there before the devouring. As I fade out of consciousness I’d be able to dimly hear the frantic barking of my normally quiet, self-effacing and devoted companion. I calculate how many days it would take for anyone to find me, and speculate on how much my body would deteriorate in the intervening time. Would my eyeballs liquefy from the melting and nightly re-freezing? Then I picture my funeral, and wonder if any of my friends are brave enough to perform a Tibetan Sky Burial for me. Are you?
Oh, by the way… I saw my first butterfly today. It fluttered by.