We needed a few things from the store today, though nothing we couldn’t live without. However, when the plow went through at 3AM, it had no seeming effect, so we wondered about the hills between us and the main road. Just before noon, we loaded up the dog and slowly drove out the ridge to the first major down-slope and gazed over the brink. We decided that the road was too bad to risk travel and decided that we’d just make do with what supplies we had on hand. Turning around, I suggested to my wife that I go home and put chains on, so we could go anyway. And so we did. We left the dog in the house, knowing that chains would allow us to return with certainty.
It had been ages since I’d put chains on a vehicle. Having four-wheel drive sort of makes them unneeded 999 times out of 1000. But, with my 4WD not kicking in like it should, I was back to a 2WD pickup, so I was glad I’d purchased chains when I first got the truck. It probably took me twice as long to mount them as it did in the past. Not only was I out of practice, I was also much older and fatter. Still, in a few minutes, I told my wife that we were ready and off we went.
It was interesting to see all the 4WD’s out on the roads. I suspect most stayed home yesterday like we did, but decided to hit the road when they saw the sun today. One thing I noticed was that we were the only folks on the road with chains. The few folks who were standing outdoors craned their necks to look as we went by, many of the younger ones probably having never seen chains on a vehicle before. The curiosity of others continued when we reached the bare four lane and the equally bare streets of town. One guy even laughed at us as we drove by his home.
As we talked about it, my wife and I decided that the last time that I’d used chains on the highway was 21 years ago. I’d just landed my job at the factory when we got snowed in for three days and the factory closed down. I kept calling, since I didn’t want to lose any work, and the day they said that they were going to run all shifts the following day, we lost our electric here on Tick Ridge. So, I put the chains on the ’79 GMC that I had at the time, we loaded a couple changes of clothes and a few supplies, took the little dachshund we had at the time and headed off for town through 21 inches of snow. At one place a pine was across the road and I got hung-up driving in the road ditch to avoid the treetop. A kind neighbor pulled us out with his tractor and we finished our trip. For the next week, we lived in a motel, while I worked my new job. We ate most of our meals at the McDonald’s next door and did laundry at a nearby laundromat. It was a rough week, but we made it.
After getting to our destination today, I paid a visit to the men’s room at the Chinese Emporium, while my wife did her shopping. As I headed back to the truck, planning to snooze a bit, I noticed a large flock of gulls in the parking lot, and sat down on a bench in the store’s side hall to watch them a few minutes. As I sat there, one of the workers that I sometimes speak to began taking apart one of the recycling boxes near me. As we chatted, I mentioned that I was using chains, in order to get to and from my home on Tick Ridge. At that, he mentioned that he was raised on the road we took when we hit the valley, so I asked his last name. When he told me, I asked if he was related to Charlie and Janet, farm folks that I once knew of the same name. He told me that they were his parents!
It’s funny how even country folks can grow up almost in the same neighborhood and not know one another. He looked to be near my age, but I don’t remember him from those days, nor did he remember me. I remembered my dad and I doing business with his folks though, and he remembered when our family sawmill was in what’s now my front yard. That was 40-some years ago. Both of his parents have been gone for a few years and my dad for over thirty, so it brought up a lot of old memories. After a brief chat and a handshake, I left him at his work and continued on to the truck.
On the way home later, my wife and I discussed the gulls, the winter of the big snow, our now antiquated method for gaining traction, and the changes in our neighborhood, just in the years that we’ve been married. Sometimes, it seems like we’re too young to be this old but, obviously, we aren’t. © 2015