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Another shot of winter

Published April 03. 2010 09:00AM

Earlier this week it was difficult to believe winter was ever going to give up its hold even though spring has been here for over a week and a half. While this last snowstorm was nothing more than some slush, it caught many people including me by surprise on Tuesday afternoon. I was reading while the rain hit the window pane until Katie called me to the kitchen telling me that it was sleeting. Sure enough, there were ice pellets piling up on the window sill as the rain got stronger and temperatures slightly fell.

Of course I went back to my reading and about 30 minutes later I realized the ice had stopped hitting the windows. Figuring it changed back to rain, I continued with my book while Kathryn and Katie decided to take an afternoon nap on such a dreary day. It was only about an hour later I walked past the window and did the characteristic double take when I realized it was snowing hard which is why the noise had ceased.

I gave it no more thought until dinner when we realized we needed some bread and milk. I was volunteered to get some from the deli in town. Volunteered in husband-speak usually translates to my wife asked me to run to the deli and I wisely complied. Domestic noncompliance and its penalties is probably a whole other column. It was only then I had a healthy respect for the scourge of ice and snow that briefly settled over Summit Hill as well as other higher elevation communities.

I always say that I would rather drive in six inches of snow instead of an inch of slush or ice, and that evening was no exception. It was probably easily one of the most hazardous local conditions for a few hours of the whole winter. Of course it didn't help that I did a foolish thing before I even started the car.

With the few hours of snow that had fallen, a fluffy but wet coating of a quarter to half inch of snow coated the car which I left in front of the house. Since it was wet it was sticky as snow can be and I hurried inside the car to avoid the sleet that was starting to fall again. It was wind driven so it stung when it hit the face. I didn't feel like being pelted any more than necessary so I hopped in the car and used the wipers to clear the windshield.

Only then did it occur to me that I forgot to clear the driver's side window. The passenger window was cleared due to the way the snow fell through the afternoon but the driver's side had a coating on it. This is where I learned that snow actually does follow the laws of physics and probably a few of Murphy's Laws. In this case, I learned about the "Law of Snow Collapse" as it applies to car windows. It is similar to the "Buttered Toast Principle" which paraphrased simply states that if you drop a piece of toast on the floor the messiest side will always land in contact with the floor.

In this case, the snow collapse rule is a pile of snow against an object will fall in the most uncomfortable direction possible if the object is removed. In my case the object was the window that I rolled down to clear the snow so I could see the side rearview mirror. As the window disappeared into the door, the snow stayed precariously piled on the slight ledge of the window frame until I touched it.

My strategy was that if I used my arm I could knock the snow off the ledge it would fall harmlessly onto the street. Bad idea. The minute I came in contact with the snow, the fragile, balanced pile of flakes fell into the car, on my lap, on the seat behind me, on my foot and under my pants. As the snow started to melt and soak my pants, I grabbed handfuls of it and threw it out the window where it belonged instead of on my car seat, but it was too little too late. The only benefit of the whole torturous experience was my mirror was visible. What a way to celebrate possibly the last snow, I thought.

When I woke the next morning, the sun was shining and the snow was only on the grassy areas and my deck having melted already from the streets and sidewalks. In a short time later the last lion of March was all but gone. Here and there small piles of frozen snow and ice sat in the shade under car bumpers but most other places there were puddles.

One of my errands that day was to get the car inspected at the local garage. The unusual spring snow was the talk of the men at the garage and one expressed his hope that would be the end while another said that there was still one more waiting in the wings. From my own experience I know that snow is always possible. One of the men talked about remembering snow on Memorial Day in the past. I said that was probably before my time, but one never knows when history may repeat itself. By the end of the day though the roar of the March lion was a memory and the day was definitely one to provoke thoughts of spring fever. At least until next week, I suppose.

Til next time …

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