few choice bits of information
Wednesday, February 13 2008
Snow had fallen most of the night and by this morning it had turned to rain, filling the voids in the snow with water. It was as if the landscape had been covered with several inches of sopping wet toilet paper.
Luckily, after another night of night sweats and cats in my face, my health had dramatically improved. The most promising indication was that my sore throat was nearly gone.
I went out and did some snow shoveling, if you can call it that. Usually when I emptied my shovel of whatever I'd scooped, the contents came out in a pour. Still, the shoveling seemed necessary just to provide some purchase for Gretchen to get the momentum to get out of the driveway; there were only one or two inches of slush to contend with, but it was extremely thick, heavy, and slippery. Furthermore, the mound made by the snowplow had to be dismantled.
About ten minutes after she'd driven off to go teach her class at Bard, I got a call from Gretchen on her cellphone. I could tell by the shitty reception that she was in a cellphone deadzone. We shouted at each other, hoping the statistical gods would allow a few choice fragments of information to be exchanged. The first useful one I received was the English word "snowbank," which I took to be the object in which Gretchen's car was now stuck. I then asked several times where she was. Eventually I heard "Dug Hill Road." She hadn't made it very far.
So then I dug out my car and drove out, but in my frenzy I'd forgotten the snow shovels. So I spent a good minute or two trying to turn around in the downhill neighbor's unplowed driveway. And once I'd somehow done that, finding the traction to climb back uphill to my driveway was like trying to find something other than foxes guarding the henhouses of American bureaucracy. No, it actually wasn't quite that bad.
I grabbed the snowshovels and headed back downhill, going no more then ten miles per hour so as not to simply replicate whatever experiment Gretchen had performed. There she was (41.930794 N, 74.102869 W), not even a half mile down the hill, near the bottom of that long straight-away before the curve leading to the bus turn around. Though she'd been heading downhill, her car now pointed uphill, lodged in the thick icy snow bank that had prevented her from slamming into a tree (or, failing that, shooting over a cliff). By the time I showed up, a couple of yokels driving a Safeco truck (no doubt responding to an internet predator in a lawn) had shown up from below and were trying to help Gretchen free her car (otherwise they wouldn't be able to get through). Moments after I arrived another truck queued up from below, this one driven by the Town of Hurley. They were the only vehicles that had attempted to come through in twenty minutes.
Gretchen said she'd been going down Dug Hill Road at what had seemed like a reasonable speed (hmm, I have my doubts) and then, as she'd approached the curve, she'd tried to slow and found her brakes did nothing at all. She had hit the snow bank in an effort to slow down, and it had worked, though it had spun the car nearly completely around. But the car was undamaged and Gretchen was unhurt.
At first I thought we'd have to dig the car out, but now there were five strong guys available and one woman to drive, so we thought we'd just brute force the thing out of the bank. It took about ten seconds. Because my car was still pointing downhill, I was of the traffic jam to head back up, and I did the entire distance in reverse because I didn't want to risk turning around again.
In the end Gretchen went to Bard by going the other way on Dug Hill Road out of our driveway, a five or six mile detour with no dramatic downhill grades.
I was feeling unusually happy most of the day just for being back to my healthy old self again. Sure I'd cough up huge rafts of mucous every now and then and burst blood vessels blowing my nose, and my food interests still resembled those of a five year old child, but I had reasonable energy levels and wasn't in constant pain.
But as the evening wore on I kept feeling pangs of unpleasant anxiety - either in my gut or in my chest, and I'd have to lie down to recover. Clearly I wasn't yet recovered, because after I went to sleep I'd find myself still waking soaked in sweat.
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