Monday, February 28, 2011
I Don't Know Why I Swallowed the Fly
My story is interrupted, for the moment, by one of those days that seem ordinary at the onset, then, snowball into something special just from one errant misstep. I woke up slowly that morning from my torpor fueled by the brewpub fare I ate the night before. Platefuls of soft pretzels, horseradish mustard, sauerkraut smothered pierogies, sausage, which I washed down with several pints of hoppy brew were now doing a little polka in my intestinal tract, but nothing can rival a good sauerkraut burp.
The forecast the night before was for an inch of snow, so of course we woke up to nearly six, but it was the kind of snow that one could dispense of with a feather duster. I ate a banana to coat my stomach for the onslaught of espresso, put on some pants for once, and got to shoveling.
I revved up the snowblower to clear out some parking spaces for a mountain bike meeting in the afternoon, but barely made two passes before the farmer Liz Roma came out to tell me how I was out of my gourd to even attempt such a thing and that she would plow it with a tractor.
So with my plans blown, and nothing else to do in this sleepy town of 500, I got in the farm utility vehicle, known as the green truck, and went across the street to Amee Farm Lodge to retrieve and return a few dozen pairs of snowshoes to The General Store. Conditions were a wee bit treacherous, but I figured with four wheel drive and the immense size of the pickup truck in my favor, I should just man up and do it.
Half way up the access road, fifty yards in, I slid into a two foot high snowbank and promptly dug my tires into a ditch. I wasn’t going anywhere. I stepped out of the truck onto a road that was a luger’s dream, a hundred yard ribbon of smooth, slick ice set at a steep pitch. I went back across the street, brushed the snow off a wheelbarrow of frozen cinders, wheeled the thing across the highway, and ran it up the hill as fast as I could manage until my feet started losing purchase.
Roma made short work of the parking spaces and now spotted my debacle from across the highway, and sped, reaching upwards of ten mph, to my rescue. Liz Cotter, the farm Bikram Yoga instructor and wedding planner, having just finished running a yoga retreat, walked from the opposite direction.
We took turns shoveling, cindering, and deciding who was the most skillful with a truck. I was eliminated from the running immediately; Roma, who spends every day of her life driving heavy machinery was the clear winner. She promptly backed up into a much deeper ditch and the truck careened at such a steep angle that the driver’s side wheels were lifted slightly off the luge run.
If there was any hope at all, the tractor was going to have to pull the truck out. Roma drove it towards the top of the road and then almost pulled off, unintentionally, the first documented farm tractor doughnut. Fearing that the tractor would continue its slide, Liz Cotter and I jumped into a snowbank.
As it stood, the green truck was tilted ominously in a ditch, the tractor was poised sideways on the road on a sheet of ice and Liz Cotter’s jeep was stranded in the Lodge parking lot. I brought the wheelbarrow back to the farm to resupply with sand. I found some sandbags sitting in an ATV trailer and loaded up. When I returned, Roma was not happy, “These are frozen! Matt, you are the goofiest guy I know!” As we bashed the bags on the ground, I tried not to stand too close to Roma fearing that she would crush my metatarpals with solidified sand. I went back to the farm and found a bag of play sand just in time to save my hide.
Meanwhile, yoga retreaters, toting a week’s worth of luggage, filtered past the wreckage stepping gingerly down the luge run to their ride waiting at the entrance. After dumping fifty pounds of sand on the ice, the tractor wheels still spun, and the tractor slid, but never broke loose. We called tow trucks, the closest one with an hour ETA. Liz Cotter made coffee. Hypoglycemic, and beyond humiliation, I grazed on some Luna bars, “nutrition for women,” from the Jeep, and started singing “There was an old woman who swallowed a fly,” until Roma, who, even though it was mid afternoon, didn’t eat a bite, told me to shut the fuck up.