Friday, December 21, 2012

Snow Day to Go Out

Most mornings I'm the last one to get their first cup of Sandhill coffee. Sometimes I miss the first pot all together. Not because I sleep so much, but because I often work past midnight—long after more sensible communitarians have danced a round or two with the Sandman. When I awoke yesterday, sure enough everyone else was already in the kitchen, huddled around the coffee thermos, nattering away about the day ahead.

Two days ago the weather had turned rainy—alternating between drizzling and showering since the afternoon—and I felt fortunate to have safely completed a trip to Quincy IL (60 miles away) to accomplish marathon photocopying at the cheapest place around (I did over 8,000 impressions for $200, taking more than four hours to orchestrate, tying up two machines). That evening I happily collated and stapled my output from the copiers, glad that I didn't need to venture out into the bad weather any more. By the time I turned out the lights it was 1 am, and the outdoor temperatures were sliding toward freezing.   

In the morning, I could tell that something special was happening from the excited timbre in the voices that floated into my bedroom from the kitchen. Though I couldn't make out the words, something was in the air. 

It turned out that something was snow! Our first storm of the season was roaring across northeast Missouri, pushed by plenty of arctic wind. We got perhaps four inches of wet snow, sculpted into drifts of more than a foot at strategic points along our half mile of gravel access road.

While some Sandhill members couldn't wait to get out and play in the white stuff—led by the boisterous enthusiasm of Emory, our four-year-old, who was itching to build snowpeople—others were more measured in their excitement, thinking of wet firewood, icy paths, and the general orneriness of navigating bumpy terrain where solid ground is hidden from view.

As it happens, Thursday is one of the two days each week when Mae Ferber from Dancing Rabbit does a regular order fulfillment shift in the FIC Office. Despite the weather she arrived on time, delivered by Kurt Kessner, who dropped her off on his way to town in the DR diesel pickup. While Kurt did slide off the road at one point he was able to horse his way out of the ditch (with only minor damage to our mail boxes). It takes a much bigger storm to scare off a Minnesotan like Kurt from meeting the weekly beer truck for resupplying the Milkweed Mercantile.

My plan yesterday was to linger at home long enough to hand over the photocopies to Mae (who needed them to fill orders for out-of-print back issues of Communities magazine) and attend the weekly Sandhill meeting. Afterwards I was going to mosey over to DR, where I had an afternoon date with Rachel to transfer files from my old laptop to my spiffy new MacBook Pro Retina, followed by pizza at the Milkweed Mercantile (a Thursday night tradition that would give me a chance to quaff some of that fresh micro-brewery malted beverage that Kurt had ventured out to collect), and a cozy evening with Ma'ikwe at Moon Lodge, at first near the wood stove, and later under the covers. Yum.

While all of that looked good on paper, our Hyundai Elantra sedan (nicknamed Ruthie, after Joe's grandmother, who bequeathed it to us) was not as stout as the DR pickup and we (Mae was trying to hitch a ride home with me) were not able to blast through the drifts blocking the last 100 yards to the blacktop. Sigh. While Mae got out and completed her journey by foot, I walked back half a mile to our homestead to bring Kathy, our D-17 Allis Chalmers tractor, to bear on the problem.

While Kathy had no trouble with the drifts and I was easily able to extract the Elantra with a log chain, 90 minutes after I'd begun I was right back home with Ruthie in her parking spot, Kathy in the barn, and no prospects for pizza or faster computing with a backlit keyboard. Discouraged, I figured I could at least schlep the box of master copies that I used for photocopying back to the FIC office trailer (before someone inadvertently drove them to St Louis for the holidays, while they rested quietly into Ruthie's trunk). 

Balancing the box precariously as I entered the trailer, I needed to negotiate a narrow hallway to get to the room where the back issues are stored. Wanting to set the box down as soon as possible, I didn't take time to knock the snow from my feet—which turned out to be a big mistake. 

To get to the magazine room you have to pass through the main work space, in the midst of which there's a floor covering transition from carpet to linoleum tile. Blithely walking across the room my snow packed footwear did fine on the carpet yet offered no traction whatsoever on the linoleum and down I went in a heap, with arms, legs, and envelopes of master copies akimbo. I'll be damned if I didn't wrench my damaged right knee, again. [See my blog of Sept 12, Wounded Knee, for the story of the original injury.]

Sitting in my bedroom typing this (on my old laptop), I am reflecting on how yesterday afternoon didn't go the way I thought it would at all. I'd have been better off if I had taken a snow day, and simply stayed indoors.

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