A funny thing happened on our way to my nephew’s memorial party this past weekend. It was scary at the time, but it’s laughable now that we’re seeing it in our rear view mirror.
After landing at LaGuardia at nearly 9 o’clock at night, we still faced a two-hour-plus drive over rural roads to western Connecticut. It was about 7 degrees outside, but the wind chill factor plunged the temperatures well below freezing. Inside the car, however, we were warm and dry. We enjoyed the long ride through an increasingly snowy countryside: our headlights spotlighted snow-covered tombstones in churchyard cemeteries, wood-framed farmhouses situated on white-blanketed acreage, and boxcar diners shuttered against the storm.
Just shy of midnight, we reached the base of my in-laws’ driveway. It’s not a short path to the front door, mind you; they live on approximately 58 acres, and their house sits at the top of a very steep, winding road. Accumulated snow was plowed into grayish berms at the bottom, but pristine snow covered the hillside. Whistling winds sliced through the trees, and everything was eerily illuminated by a fog-shrouded half moon. Through the windshield, we looked out at a winter wonderland.
But our perspective soon changed. About 1/3 of the way up the hill, our rear-wheel-drive rental car spun out on the accumulated ice, its tires refusing to inch forward a single iota more. Obviously, we had two choices: stay in the car overnight and call a tow truck in the morning, or trudge up the hill on foot. We decided to hoof it.
Did I mention what I was wearing? Layered sweaters, a leather jacket, Lucky jeans and smooth-soled canvas tennis shoes. A reasonable question might be, “Whatever were you thinking?” Honest answer? I wasn’t. I was quasi-fashionable but definitely foolish.
I finally figured out that walking through the snow gave me enough traction to move forward, rather than sliding sideways and backward on the ice. And so it was that I traipsed up the hill, my shoes and jeans getting ever soggier. Tears rolled down my cheeks, and as I wiped them away, I scolded myself for being such a weather-wimp wussy girl. Meanwhile, my husband, hero that he is, walked behind me, schlepping both our suitcases up the hill in silence. I swear, it was a scene straight out of Doctor Zhivago.
An eternity and about 1/8 of an uphill mile later, we finally turned the key in the lock on my in-laws’ front door. We stood in the entryway, hugging each other and celebrating the fact that we’d arrived intact. We shrugged off our wet clothes and started a pot of tea, then looked at each other and started to laugh. Call me crazy, but I like to think my nephew was laughing right along with us.
Left: The view from the top of the hill at sunrise. Llok closely and you’ll see our stalled car at the curve in the road. Right: The same road, as seen from the bottom of the hill, after the ice had partially melted. The house is at the top right side of the photo.