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Now THAT was lucky
July 11, 2013 - Karen Schwaller
It’s amazing what the mind can conjure up when extreme heat sets in while out power walking. I gave up my short-lived try at running for exercise, even on these gravel roads where not many people can see me. There are too many moving parts in the front and back that no one wants to witness in motion. It would also reveal why I could run the 100-yard dash in high school track, but feigned ankle issues when the coach was looking for someone to run the 440- and 880-yard dashes. Oh, I tried the 440-yard dash once. I came in second to last out of about six gazillion girls running that day. Thank God. Oh, the humiliation of coming in last. As I was burning up the road I was reminded of an episode that occurred a few years ago just a little further down. Here in the Midwest, we’re a hearty lot. We know how to drive in snow and ice, and unlike those of the poultry heritage, we do know to come in out of the rain unless there’s only a few more minutes of planting or harvesting left to do. I was coming home from work one winter evening and turned onto a road near our farm that is a Level B service road. As I had noticed earlier in the week, the road was in fairly good shape and it looked like I could take that shortcut home. It was smooth sailing, too, for maybe three-fourths of the mile. And then I saw it. Deep snow drifts just ahead. As I was coming upon it, I had to decide quickly what I was going to do because I wanted to keep the momentum I already had if I was going to continue. If I was going to stop, I would probably have to back all the way to the corner from which I’d come. If you know me, you know that my gift of going backwards lies more in the area of social skills. I decided to pray a Hail Mary and gun it. The prayer must have helped, because I plowed right through that long drift with only a couple of snaggy spots, which allowed me to come to the corner unscathed, and I proceeded down our gravel road for the last leg of the journey, which was a piece of cake compared to the last quarter mile from which I had just emerged. I felt like Mario Andretti, and even bragged about it when I got home. My husband appeared less than impressed. Later on our (then) middle-school aged sons had to be taken to wrestling practice, so I dropped them off and proceeded home, but about a mile from our place on the way home, the car died. Perplexed, I contacted my husband, who came to get the car. He got it into the machine shed, lifted the hood to look around, and placed the portable heater on it, since the car’s underside was still snow packed from my Daytona One-Miler. After supper we returned to the machine shed to see what the problem was with the car. By that time all of the snow had melted from beneath it, and the problem was revealed. Part of the gas line had been torn off, and there was gas on the ground with a Knipco heater blowing on it inside our machine shed as it had been for (oh, I don’t know), a couple of hours. A gazelle could not have covered more ground as quickly as my husband did in order to get that heater turned off. Then we all stood and looked at each other nervously, wondering if we should get out of there. This could clearly have ended terribly — especially with us all standing there inside the building with that powerful heater blowing on the gas underneath the car. But luck (or Someone) gave us a reprieve, under the circumstances. After a Ward Cleaver-like narrative about not ripping through snow drifts like that with the family roadster (an Oldsmobile 98), the problem was fixed and I never tried that stunt again. It was a hollow victory at best. And I’ve thought since then that maybe the victory wasn’t the only thing that was hollow.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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