More Dogs on Main
March 4, 2011
This has been quite a winter. The snow is stacked up everywhere, and I’m running out of places to put it. It’s piled as high as the tractor can lift it, and the windrow on the side of the road is taller than the blower can shoot over. With each storm, I’m losing a little more ground. If it keeps coming at this rate, the road to my house soon will be no wider than a bicycle, which is only a problem because I need to get a propane delivery truck in here relatively soon.
Skiing has been very good, and the cold weather has kept the snow in good condition with the exception of that dismal rain in January. The contrast in mood between skiers and non-skiers is pretty stark this winter. For those living in town minutes away from great skiing, where there is an arsenal of big equipment clearing the streets and hauling snow away, it doesn’t get any better. Out in the hinterlands, like my house, where you plow your own snow and the heavy winter means livestock are eating more hay than usual, things are not quite so rosy.
As the roads narrow and the haystacks and woodpiles begin to run out, cabin fever is setting in. Roofs on outbuildings that haven’t required shoveling in several years are now being cleared for the second time this season. After that -30 night, water pipes have frozen in a few places, and every time you turn the tap, there is a real sense of relief when water actually flows.
Nobody has resorted to cannibalism, yet. But I’ve noticed that when I encounter neighbors at the mailboxes, the conversations are short, and we look at each other in a slightly different way. When someone asks, "How are you?" there is a reluctance to say, "Fine." Instead, it seems prudent to suggest that you might be infected with mad cow disease or something similar that would disqualify you from future menu appearances.
But we are into March now and there are signs that winter’s grip is loosening a little. The days are significantly longer. The other night, I was walking the dogs and heard the blackbirds singing in the willows along the creek bed. The glacier on the roof of the house is grinding its way to the eaves. Once it starts moving, spring can’t be far behind.
I think it was Churchill who said that nothing is as exhilarating as being shot at without result. I gained a new appreciation for that sentiment the other night driving home when I was in a minor accident. I was on S.R. 248, just starting the climb over the West Hills to Kamas. Coming towards me, about 200 yards ahead, a car fishtailed, then completely spun out. He did at least one and a half rotations before slamming into me.
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He hit hard, right on the front wheel of my truck. The other car was an older compact car, and apparently was made entirely out of Lego bricks. I think there are still bits of plastic raining down on the highway. Fortunately nobody was hurt. Two men were killed at the same place a week earlier. There were other cars coming in both directions that somehow managed to avoid piling on.
I’ve been driving for better than 40 years, and this is the first accident I’ve had. The other driver and I were able to deal with the situation pretty effectively in terms of making sure nobody needed an ambulance and getting his car out of the way so nobody else plowed into it. That calm lasted just long enough to deal with the emergency. The wave of fear hit a few minutes later.
The next day I went to look at the truck. It looked completely normal, but when I drove it, the steering wheel was cocked about 45 degrees off straight. It will drive in a nice, tight circle to the right all by itself, but it doesn’t want to turn left. The local mechanic says it’s toast. The insurance company thinks it can be fixed. I guess we’ll see.
It’s terrifying how quickly something like that can unfold, and how little you can do about it once it’s all set in motion even when you can see it coming. I was nearly stopped when he hit me. If either of us had been going even a little faster, the result could have been a lot different.
We still have several weeks of winter weather to deal with. Can we all just slow down a little bit on the slick roads?
Tom Clyde practiced law in Park City for many years. He lives on a working ranch in Woodland and has been writing this column for nearly 25 years.