Sunday, November 30, 2008


This morning I awoke to a land of crystal ice. During the night our mountain home was visited by the angles of “winter mix”.

Unconcerned I packed my suitcase then trotted upstairs to start the coffee. As I sat on the couch with my book and cup-of-joe, looking out the French Doors across the deck and the valley, I noticed the icicles hanging off the bird feeders. Soon my hosts joined me and we discussed my departure plans. Strip the bed, breakfast, take a shower, clean the bathroom, pack my kitchen utensils, join them for church, go to lunch, return to the mountain home, cut a Christmas tree – and head back to the triangle.

As we sat around the breakfast table we talked about ice-storms, dirt roads, and car accidents.

While I took my shower, I suddenly realized … it wasn’t just a “little bit” cold … and there weren’t just icicles on the birdfeeders. The trees were also bowed from their frosting of ice jewelry – and the steps off the front porch shimmered with a crystal coating … and the road down off the mountain was steep, rutted, potholed with a sheer drop on one side – and slightly less sheer drop on the other.

Perhaps – perhaps SMART PEOPLE wouldn’t be trying to climb the gravel driveway to the mountain-top to begin the slippery decent to Winkler’s Creek Road on this morning.

As I did my guest cleaning chores, I chewed this idea over in my head. Surely – they’d say, “It looks too dangerous, we’re not doing church this morning,” if that were the case, WOULDN’T THEY??

And SURELY it would warm up enough by mid-afternoon for me to drive out … right?

Bringing the trash upstairs, I looked out the kitchen window at my four-wheel drive perched on top of the mountain. It towered over the house, thirty-feet above the driveway, parked on a “wide-spot” facing downhill and coated in a layer of ice. To leave, I’d have to turn it around … doing a three-point turn – or come down the hill – and do a three-point turn while the nose of the SUV faced eternity. One creeping roll too far forward ... and maybe I'd be MEETING eternity!!!

As my host joined me at the kitchen sink, he announced he’d heard a couple of tree branches “firing-off” as they became too heavy for their load of ice and shattering as they descended to earth. He also mentioned how he’d have to defrost the vehicle door handles before we could depart for church.

“You know … it’s okay with me if we don’t go to church … because the roads aren’t safe,” I told him.

Smiling his fuzzy-wuzzy bear smile at me he assured me that if we couldn’t make it up the driveway, we wouldn’t try the mountain descent.

That’s about the time I started the internal pep-talk.

“You grew up on mountain roads. You had no problems getting in here Wednesday night in the dark,” I told myself.

“You drive a four-wheel drive vehicle. You don’t even have to lock in the hubs manually. What’s your problem?” I asked my scaredy-cat self.

“There are ruts, and edges, and ledges, and this isn’t just snow and mud and water! This is ice and ice doesn’t respect four-wheel drive,” the pragmatist answered.

“What’cha gonna do … Scaredy-Mit? Ask them to drive your car out to the paved road FOR YOU?”

Clearly THAT was NOT an option. Not because they wouldn’t do it … but because I’d have to let them know my fear was getting the best of my abilities; and I HATE admitting my fears to others. The fears that I can’t laugh about, fears that immobilize me, fears that are unrealistic, fears that will reveal the truth about me – that I am not capable and able to take care of myself. Then I thought of Peggy and her “Boldness Blog”.

I finally told Scaredy-Mit that she didn’t have to make an uninformed decision right then and there. We’d be driving out for church and I could check the road conditions and skill requirements while someone else was risking their car. We’d be returning after lunch and by then, it should have warmed up a few degrees, so the road should be in better shape.

Getting out to church on the dirt road was amazingly smooth going. When we reached the paved road, there were numerous sections of black ice, but slow and steady driving rendered those spots no challenge.

After lunch, returning to the house, the black ice was gone, though the tree limbs were still encased in ice. Being sly … I asked the host if he didn’t want to bring my car down the drive so it could be loaded, instead of hauling everything to their car – then driving up to the top of the mountain – and then loading my car. My real goal was to get him to turn around my car and navigate the overhangs FOR ME, without having to directly ask.

All went smoothly. My vehicle was brought down to the house and loaded. Jumping into the driver’s seat, I climbed out the gravel drive in first gear with no difficulties. High four-wheel drive wasn’t even necessary.

But still – I remember the pep-talk I had to give myself. How I had to remind myself of how I’ve forded creeks, driven in snow, and been down roads marked “four-wheel drive only – winch advised” in a sedan. Intellectually I knew how to drive the road. Historically I have ridden over worse. So why oh why did I need the pep-talk?

Perhaps – the image of sliding into a drainage ditch – or seeing a paid-for car sliding down the mountain – were the real fear factors. But somehow I think Scardey-Mit just has a damn big mouth.

Thank god she has an even bigger fear of admitting these things out loud – and so I continue to look like I can conquer anything … except math … and possums … and things that go “bump” or “scritch-scritch-scritch” in the middle of the night.

Ps: Did you also notice I met the challenge and wrote EVERY DAY for 30 days?? Go me!


mamie said...

Congrats on 30 days of posting. I enjoyed every one of them. Now, I hope you win the book my daughter donated as a prize!

Wanderjenn said...

I did notice, but what really impressed me was that none of them felt like filler. Congrats!

krisis said...

Excellent job on another 30 days of compelling writing. Also, I love how you snuck in "forded creeks" - have I missed that story?

The Purple Panda said...

Congrats on the 30 days! And I agree w/ your other commenters; I read most of the posts and enjoyed every one -- no half-assed posting there!

I think I enjoyed this one the most, too. You rock!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Mit - on getting home alive ! And, on 30 days of writing ! Math, possums, and - mice ??? And big, black beetles/bugs ? You did good !!!!tp