Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Floundering Through the Crevasse

Another chapter in our never-ending winter!

Floundering Through the Crevasse


A few days ago I was dragging a sack of garbage across my backyard snowfield to the alley for pick up, when I fell into a crevasse.

That sounds melodramatic. But there have been weeks this winter when I could not get to the alley. When our daytime temperature rose above freezing for several days, the snow drifts had settled somewhat. In fact, there were indications that soon I would be able to see benches, flower pots, rocks and currant bushes which have been buried since November.

So I laced up my Sorels , grabbed my walking stick, shoved the snow away from the back door, and eased over the icy embankment and up, up onto the snowfield. Carefully, I probed my way with my walking stick, testing the depth of the mounded snow, dragging my garbage sack behind me. When I came to where my “path” skirted the cabin, I faced a quandary.

My house is centered on the front of my lot. At the back, in a corner, sits an old cabin, the original home of the family who once lived here. The snow, which had melted off the cabin roof, had formed a small pond. During the night the pond had frozen, creating a skating rink of some size. The skating rink blocked several feet of my path.

Rather than risk the rink, I ventured out into the garden on the other side of the path. I use the term “garden” loosely. In this area I cultivate volunteer lettuce, onions, Canada thistle, pig weed and kosha. But I digress. I ventured further up onto the snowy plateau which hid all but the memory of a garden. I found the mound to be quite solid.

I also saw my little world from an unexpected perspective. In ordinary times my yard is flat, with nary a distinguishing vertical feature. Never had I viewed the roof of the cabin, my neighbor’s houses and the full reach of the alley from this heady elevation. I looked out over a brave new world. I took another step and plunged into a crevasse. With one leg. My other leg stayed on top of the drift. My buried leg was tightly encased with crusted snow all the way past mid-thigh. I could not move either leg. I could not get purchase to lift myself from my icy prison. I could not go forward. I could not go backward.

A gray car drove by on Fourth Street . The people did not see me. I pondered tying my garbage sack onto the end of my walking stick and waving it in the air, a distress signal. I also considered that my garbage weighed at least forty pounds. My neighbors across the alley hurried out of their house, jumped into their car and drove away. I waved. They did not see me. Or they pretended they did not see me. Well, what would you have done?

First of all, I looked pretty funny, anchored in my snow bank. It is not polite to laugh at someone in distress. I know my neighbors to be very polite. Besides, they were on the way to work, probably already five minutes late and they wanted to stop at the new coffee shop in town to order caramel mocha-rocas, venti, three shots, skinny, extra hot, whipped cream, coco powder, a chocolate covered coffee bean and no straw, please.

So I sat down. I was mostly sitting down anyway, with my leg stuck in the ice. Very slowly, on my bottom, I scooched myself backwards out of the jaws of the icy trap. Still sitting, I dragged me and my garbage bag over the snow field several feet to the distant edge of the bank. There I swung my legs over and jumped to the “ground,” grateful that we do not live in avalanche country.

Sondra Ashton

HDN: Looking out my back door

February 24, 2011

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