Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stranded, beautifully.

I'm not exactly thrilled to report that, though delayed, winter has arrived with a vengeance to our little corner of the world.  I've been dodging winter for months (or I should say, it's been dodging me).  My daughter Katie and I have a running battle over snow:  she wants it; I don't.  So when I was in Hannaford last night, leisurely strolling through the aisles and reading nutrition labels, deciding just what kind of bread and mustard I wanted for my Virginia ham and American cheese sandwiches, the snow began piling up outside with furious intensity.  I couldn't believe how much had accumulated in the forty-five minutes I'd spent in the grocery store.  I thought "This can't be good" and not because I hate snow.  What I hate is how my car doesn't drive in the snow.

My cute and reliable Mazda 3 has "performance" tires which are fine on plowed and sanded (if not horizontal) roads but just horrible with any accumulation and even worse on inclines.  So, I headed out of Hannaford's parking lot, or tried to.  My car decided to spin its tires in the middle of the intersection.  I could feel blood rushing to my face. My pulse quickened and I started to become very anxious, thinking "crap, crap, CRAP!!!."  I was somehow able to propel the car forward into the tire tracks left by another car, and headed west toward Saratoga Springs, anticipating a rough ride home to Middle Grove, usually an easy 20-minute trip.  Once I was on Broadway in Saratoga, it was clear I had neither the nerve, tenacity, or stupidity to attempt the drive home on elevated country roads in blinding snow with tires that barely held their own.  I knew I'd never make it, so I called my long-time friend Kathleen at the beautiful Saratoga Arms on Broadway and she immediately offered me shelter.  I rang the doorbell and she welcomed me as if I were her most loyal guest.  She gave me a key to a beautiful room and called a few minutes later to ask if I'd had anything to eat.  I went down to the kitchen where I made a ham sandwich and she shared some of a wonderful casserole she'd made with spaghetti squash, onions, celery, ground turkey, marinara sauce, oregano, and mozzarella cheese (yum!).  Kathleen offered me a bottle of Snapple Diet Peach and we absorbed the gorgeous winter scene outside her dining room window.  It was peaceful, quiet, and lovely.

I was so grateful to experience the storm from such a setting, but furious with myself for not planning better.  I hadn't dressed for a storm.  I thought I had all the time in the world to get home after my meeting and prepare then - get out the boots, scarf, hat, mittens, my Irish wool sweater and heavy pants.  I had planned to park my car facing downward for the next morning's descent/duel with the driveway.  I had planned to prepare, but this storm out-witted me. 

As I sat in my luxurious bed in a luxurious hotel watching the Olympic women's ice skating competition on a flat-screen TV encased in a beautiful armoire, I thought, "I can be stranded like this." (especially when I have no TV reception at home right now).   I washed some things in the bathroom sink.  I slept soundly and got up, showered, and threw on yesterday's clothes.  I saw on TV that work was delayed and my office wouldn't open until 10:00 a.m.  I thanked Kathleen and headed out to the bus stop.  I sloshed my way there through slushy sidewalks, shoes and tights soaked to my ankles.  At the corner of Broadway and Church, a gentleman shoveled a path for me off the curb, asking "Where are your boots?".  I waited for the bus just outside Mrs. London's, and took in the beauty of downtown Saratoga on a winter morning. 

As fortunate as I am to experience this storm, this way, I long for May when young vibrant green leaves unfold from their buds, and warm air once again brushes my face.  One hot summer day, I'll look back at last night as a lovely, refreshing memory, and perhaps remember this blast of winter with some fondness that I can't seem to muster just yet. 

Photo credit, of a different snow storm (but really, they have a lot in common!):

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