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Incoming BYTES
contains highly variable subject matter including commentary on the mundane, the extraordinary and even controversial issues. At Incoming BYTES
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Sunday, November 25, 2012

It's a Long Road

The first half of a long road...and Yes, that's a big hill....

I sit in the warmth of the living room, watching  small snowflakes wandering about in the breeze outside the window, some flying up and about,  trying to escape their destiny.  It is snowing again. Lightly, almost casually, you know the kind of snow coiffed weather-girls  on television make official reports about, calling them 'flurries' and 'accumulations'.
The odd fist-sized clump of snow, large snow-flake wannabe's, fall  from the sky, perhaps from tree branches disturbed  in the breeze, or  perhaps it's conjured, unified snowflake  effort to make us take the dark sky seriously,-- but  casual flurries these are, not like the day before yesterday.

That afternoon started out with rain, light, easy, gentle- 'showers' they would call them,  then a steady drizzle, of consistent,  larger drops, then heavy, determined  rain, not just annoying wet air.  Shortly after that, close to dark, there were even bigger raindrops pelting, driven with intent,  but white snowflakes began coming, confusing, then commandeering the mix.

 Under cover of darkness, a genuine Northwestern Ontario snowstorm  took over, the kind that leaves a foot of snow in a short while. It was a foot, all right, even more. Not bad for the 23rd of November though, it could have been a lot earlier.  In some ways, a  firm but  gentle reminder of winter to be,  but not the vicious, unforgiving kind.  

Our  road, an idyllic half mile of  rough gravel, -a country side road once optimistically called a "concession" - is snowed  in yet again.  Yes, it's a long road when it has over a foot of snow on it.  Wondering if I will be able to get out to the highway and carry on as normal,  I call a neighbour who usually navigates up the road with a big yellow grader, clearing the snow as regular as clockwork every year,  late or not. 
 This time it's anyone's guess,  I wait for a moment for the hesitant answer and got one.
 " No, the other plow's not available, nobody wants to work, I'm plowing myself" , the tired plow operator says,--well,  paraphrased, you understand.
   "I gotta get some supper. We gotta train a new man,  wanna learn how to operate a snow plow?" he asks.
Taken aback, I mumble to myself, quietly paraphrased, you understand, I  thank him graciously and get off the phone so he can go have supper, hopefully he'll get to my road overnight. Not likely, he's working 20 miles away. .

I seriously and sleeplessly contemplate all options available, and  all night too.
 I have commitments, appointments, business, stuff to take care of, and so does the better half.  We're food self-sufficient, but  we still don't like  to be snow-locked for a week or so.
Hm...a grader...I would get to park that  behemoth in my front yard. A big 360 hp  30 foot long yellow key  to freedom with diesel engine, a snow wing and 16ft. moldboard--the key to freedom. I  mumble to myself.  My intrepid  DIY character surfaces.    I almost decide to go for it.

When daylight breaks, I clean the ice and snow off of my 20-year old Jeep. It has good tires, and a Diehard battery,  but not much else. Not surprising, the doors are frozen shut.  Freezing rain does that.
  I use a 24" goose-neck pry bar creatively, not too over-judiciously whacking the door handle a few times to free the lock. I still have to  pry the door open anyway.  Surprisingly, the ignition isn't frozen.   The engine turns over reluctantly, coughs, and starts,-- not surprisingly, but complaining bitterly.
 The passenger door is frozen solid too. Whack that sucker a dozen times. Pry it open too. ow the door buttons are frozen in the depressed position. That's depressing. Out comes lock lube spray. The buttons pop out.. The other doors  I don't bother with. I'm not a back seat driver. Who need's'em.

I coax T.T.T. AND E.T.S.,-- that would be  Tilly the Tall and Ebony the Short,  the resident pups,  into the truck for company with little effort,  they smile and  wag their tails encouragingly as I jamb the old Jeep into gear. It groans, and the frozen wheels snap free of the ice,  but putting the pedal to the metal, it moves. I get to bust the road open.  A foot of snow or more, even with a couple of waggly frozen snowmobile-enthusiast tracks already confusing  the straightness of the  directionability required to stay out of deep ditches,-- isn't too much for a by now cranky and rusty old  DIY'er, --and a  4x4 with good snow tires.
 I run the half mile gingerly, avoiding  swerving into deep ditches, creeks and culverts, and  boldly crash, without pause, through the 3 foot snowbank left across the highway junction by the highway plow. Right at the stop sign it is. I start breathing again.  
Not bad. I crash the snowbank back in again,  and drive the half mile back home,  carefully  widening the wavering,  busted tire- track slots, and then  run the road four or five more times, widening them. The pups agree, now it's a 'winter road' and time for coffee.   

We get out after a while to where we were headed,  as required, right on time, too. 
I  no sooner get  home, not enough time to grab a coffee,   than the T.T.T. and E.T.S. excitedly announce  'here comes the grader'.   I check it out, and yes,  a yellow behemoth, blue lights flashing,  is threading it's way up the road, but something is seriously wrong.  The progress is painfully slow.
A truck is sitting down on the road, behind the moving grader, -but there's also  a parka-clad  man standing  in front of the slowly-moving grader, right on my end of the road.
  I walk out to see what's happening, expecting to see the regular operator and thank him,  expecting to perhaps be needed  to make a call for a service truck for the ailing grader.
 I end up talking  to the trainer instead.
  "He's new, "  he said.  "he's in training".

A NW. Ontario-sized Snow Grader

 The neophyte grader operator-trainer eventually reaches the end of the road where we stand, while he awkwardly  turns the big machine around. It takes a couple of tries to find reverse, lift the blades, and get it right. It's a big turnaround, but it's also a huge machine.   He stops, and the trainer gives him additional instruction. The operating cab has a dozen or more controls to play with.   He tries them all.  Graders do weird stuff, so he discovers, but eventually, he's got it set more or less right. Maybe.

  Damn, I could do better than that, I think to myself. Train me instead, I want to tell the man.  I resist the urge, and watch.
 I know from past  experience driving big tank trucks  that at first, maneuvering a behemoth of a vehicle feels  like driving a three-bedroom  side-split  up the sidewalk.   Unfamiliar with the controls, he adjusts,  talks to the trainer, and painfully, eventually, threads his way back  down the narrow road out toward the highway again, almost removing the snow behind him.
A passable job.   I probably would have liked doing that. After a while, it would be as easy as driving a yellow taxi with a fly stuck on the hood.
 I contemplate.  I go back to my writing.   Maybe next time. That's life. It's a long road.

Is that Incoming I hear? 


  1. Good to see you again RK...Its been quiet for a while :) I am SO NOT ready for snow! Just looking at the picture is depressing to me. We are due a North East coastal storm midweek which will clip us and dump the white stuff. I guess winter had to come sooner or later. I shall miss the green :(
    Take care and stay warm. By the looks of it you are way back in!!!! Peace and light....VK

    1. Hi Vk, I have been quiet for a while, working on a novel, and guess what, I wasn't ready for snow either--but it came anyway..haha~ so we get to deal with life AS it comes...I miss the green too. Just think of snow as water chilling out... I'm guessing it will warm up...come May ":) Peace and light to you, too! ":)

  2. An adventure worthy of telling. I love winter.


    1. Mike, I must agree; as you know, all of life is an adventure worthy of telling, the snowstorms just keep us on our toes...everything from nature is part of a learning curve, like waterfalls, bogs and such..":) Thanks for commenting!

  3. Brrrr.... Sounds like you had quite a time of it.... I doubt my snow tyres would have made an imprint... Can not imagine the cold winters you guys have over there... I can give you some of our rain... although you had plenty of that too .. freezing rain isnt good..

    Glad all got sorted though... Keep warm...

    1. Hi Sue,we do have quite a time of it but we always seem to survive, interestingly, quite handily! We wouldn't mind having some of your rain in the summer! I hope this finds you well, and still dreamwalking! Best of the season, and stay dry AND warm....":) ~R

  4. from the drought on the ground and in the mind, i find you snow deep and novelling away..enjoy the process my friend,we all need some hibernating between the green to fully appreciate..send a smidgen of the fluff stuff down this way, won't you?

    1. Hi, Nadine! I'm so glad to hear you're still around and kicking, you may have some of our snow if you wish! The process is perking along pretty well at this point! "Between the green" --interesting observation...":) I do hope you are writing, sharing your unique voice..delicious feeding of starving minds...Great to see you back! ":) ~R


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