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Sunday, January 25, 2015

On Snow and Driving and Kindness

Jean Sexton muses:

It is hard to believe, but I had never seen a foot of snow lying on the ground before. The time it snowed 17 inches in my hometown, I was visiting friends in Philadelphia and we saw four inches.  When it snowed 14 inches, I was in college and saw less than half that. After Thursday, I can no longer say that. A foot of snow is quite different than a few inches. When one has a dog who is only 11 inches tall at the shoulder, one finds the dog has challenges. I had to break a trail for Wolf. When he decided to leap ahead he found himself up to his ears in snow -- and he didn't enjoy that at all!

When I moved to Amarillo, I found my "heavy" coats weren't. The wind cut right through my wool coat and my lined windbreaker wasn't warm enough. I had one coat that was long and warm, but it was frequently in the way. I've added a jacket that is sufficient in most weather. After my first trip, I had a pretty pair of warm boots, but they weren't designed for wet weather. I now own sheepskin-lined rain boots and my feet are dry and warm. Wolf has an assortment of coats to handle rain, cold, and wet and cold. He is training me to carry him when his little feet would get too wet and cold on trips to and from the car.

That leads to driving. In the area where I lived (southeastern North Carolina), we realized that snow is slippery. Driving in it was hazardous. Most places closed if there was an inch of snow either expected or on the ground. My father taught me to drive with a few inches of snow on the ground. With no practice, my skills atrophied. Luckily, the Steves are willing to transport Wolf and me when I don't feel comfortable driving. Still, I am finding that my knowledge and skills are slowly returning. I may never be as proficient as they are, but I will be able to get around safely.

The apartment complex where I live now isn't responsible for clearing sidewalks or the parking lot, although they often do. The biggest problem for me is that I live in the north end of a "U" and it is shaded. Snow gets compressed or half-melted and then it refreezes to slick ice. One of my neighbors noticed I was having trouble when we were both out walking our dogs. He came over and cleared a path for me to get to the cleared part of the sidewalk. He did that again with this snowfall, having to dig about 300 steps to my door, through high drifts (two or three feet). Combined with my ice-melt crystals, I had a safe path.

On Friday, a young teen neighbor was outside and there was a snow shovel on his landing. There was a mound of snow behind my car that the plow left behind. I asked my neighbor if he'd clear it for me, sharing my nervousness about driving in snow. He understood as his mother felt the same way; his friend even cleared the car's back window. Both refused pay.

So many times we remember the rude and inconsiderate people: the person who rides your bumper, the neighbor who thunders up and down the stairs when you are trying to sleep, or the person who treats you unfairly. I am going to try to remember the kind people, the helpful people, and the people who lift others up. I think I'll be a happier person.