*Since we still have snow on the ground (which is taking its sweet time to go away), I thought I might post my column from Feb.5, 2014.*
Coming home from town the other day, I had to plow through some pretty big drifts on our grid road. Although we have not had record amounts of snow this year, the wind has managed to take whatever has fallen and deposit it where it is not wanted – on driveways and roads. But whenever we are lashed by a fierce winter blizzard, I am reminded of an incident which occurred shortly after my husband and I were married.
Ken and I were enrolled in a Thursday evening university class at a community about an hour’s drive away. It seemed that without fail whenever that day rolled around it would begin to snow.
On one occasion we came out from class at 10p.m. to find that a full-blown blizzard was raging. Off we went, determined to get home since both of us had to teach the next morning. It didn’t help matters that we drove a small foreign model which wasn’t the best vehicle for Saskatchewan roads even under reasonable conditions. But now with the huge accumulation of snow our little car would be at a huge disadvantage.
Despite the poor visibility and terrible road conditions onward we plodded. We might have made it all the way home except for “the curve”. We knew if we were to encounter any problems this would most likely be the spot. The snow always seemed to build up on this particular part of the highway, but on this evening it appeared impassable. Up ahead of us were huge banks which had been whipped into weird shapes by the howling wind and which went on and on for several hundred meters.
Ken stopped the car, surveyed the terrain ahead, backed up and, typical of any testosterone-laden male, decided to take a run at it. However it soon became apparent that our little car was not going to make it, and as the snow became deeper we slowly ground to a halt.
Out came the shovel and on went the extra clothes which we always packed. I shuffled over to the driver’s seat while Ken worked at getting rid of the snow around the tires. It was my job to “rock” the car until it gained enough traction to start moving forward. Ken would use good old muscle power to help it along. Now this “rocking” bit could be tricky because our car had a standard transmission, so it was a delicate matter of coordinating the release of the clutch and accelerating the gas pedal, and then quickly changing from reverse to forward and back again.
As I wrestled with the stick shift I also listened to Ken’s instructions through the open window. This could prove challenging in itself.
“Giver gas!” he’d shout and then in the next breath, “Not so much! You’re spinning out!” I was getting frustrated but I couldn’t be upset with him as he was doing all the grunt work.
Finally after much digging, pushing, rocking, and swearing, the car started to inch forward. Then suddenly it began to pick up speed.
“Keep going!” he encouraged as he ran beside the car. “Don’t stop. Get through this big bank!” he panted. I focussed on my driving, determined to get through the bank.
As the car started to go faster and faster, Ken’s voice became fainter and fainter. Although I knew he would have a long walk to catch up to me once I cleared the bank, I had no choice but to keep going. But the last thing I did hear him yell was, “Do we have the shovel?”