Adrift in the Snow

GLACIER2Last weekend, a peculiar creature came calling: Snowzilla.

He was the kind of guest who arrives uninvited, stays too long and refuses to pick up after himself.

The storm forced our State Patrol to lower and lock the blizzard gates on the interstates and city plows were called upon to push mountains of snow onto the county and state highways throughout Southern Minnesota to seal them off.

In the middle of all this, my neighbor decided to drive to town.

He is not a foolish or careless man, mind you – but there he was digging his pickup truck out of a deep snow drift.

So I grabbed my shovel and slogged over the dunes of snow to help him out. It’s what neighbors do.

“You need help?” I called.

This was more of a formality than a question.

“Naw, I got it.”

This was also a formality.

“I got nothing to do anyway.”

“Suit yourself.”

So we dug and we dug.

His truck had surfed as far into the snow as several hundred horsepower could fling it and lucky for him, he hit a small drift. The deeper, wider drifts waited up the road and even if he had gotten to the county highway, it had not seen a plow in two days.

Still, we had to get him unstuck.

The first task was to trench around the pickup, if for no other reason than to find where the ground was. The next task was to locate the wheels.

“Your truck frame is floating on a two feet of snow,” I observed.

“Yeah, I took a run at her.”

This was an invitation to ponder the idiocy of driving into a snow drift – but what would be the point of that?

I let it go.

“I heard you got hung up two weeks ago,” he said.

“We did,” I told him.

My wife and I were coming home just after dark and ran aground on a snow drift about half a mile from our house.

“That was pretty stupid,” he said.

It was. The temperature had hit -28°F about the time we hit the snow drift and the wind was gusting at a good 30 mph, dropping the windchill to below -70°F.

“It turned bad fast,” I explained.

So here I am thinking, if he is an idiot and I am stupid for getting stuck in the snow, what exactly is the difference between idiocy and stupidity?

The dictionary refused to shed light on the matter.

He was clearly an idiot for driving hell-bent into a snow drift. But to his credit, it was not dark nor was there a -70°F windchill, rather it was afternoon and a balmy -10°F.

What he did would fall under the category of irrational exuberance. It is a socially acceptable and well understood phenomena in rural areas which is usually preceded by the phrase, “Hold my beer.”

What we did was stupid because we could have died.

We were dressed for 0°F, not for -70°F and both of us suffered frostbite while walking to a house no more than 100 yards away after several phone calls failed to turn up help.

Our neighbors up the road helped pull our truck out and despite being gracious about the whole affair, I fear our stupidity is the kind of thing that everyone will talk about for years and will never be forgiven nor forgotten.

Because it put others at risk.

By now, we had my next-door neighbor’s truck started and were rocking it back and forth in its tracks to get a run at backing out of the snow.

“So where were you going?” I yelled as he almost got it out.

“I dunno,” my neighbor said, spinning plumes of snow, “I just wanted to get out of the house.”

“You succeeded in doing that.”

He cracked a big grin as he broke free of the drift and roared back up the drive.

“And so did you,” he called back.


This photo was taken from the road looking into our neighbor’s driveway. It is where we got stuck.

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