To drive or not to drive … |

To drive or not to drive …

by Kellye Chapman

Awakening to something like an Ansel Adams photograph out my window, I measured the possible ways to spend my day by the depth of the snow. It makes a beautiful black and white, gray-toned landscape. All color is muted or neutralized by the snowfall. It is beautiful enough to simply stay in and peer out at it.

As on every day, the dogs need to go outside first thing. They love the snow and are prepared for it with their coats long and full. They run with happy tails and intermittent short barks as if to say ‘This is a good day!’ It is a good day … for building snowmen and warm drinks, a good book and a fireplace near a window to catch glimpses of even more snowfall. But I will miss my Sunday fellowship at church and I rented a DVD last night that needs to be returned. I weigh my options against the conditions.

I am no longer afraid of driving in snow. I lived in Tahoe too long for that. But I used to experience what I call a southerner’s distress over the first snow of the season. Every year in Tahoe I would forget about that distress. But, it returned annually like Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the first snow forecasted, I nervously and fearfully anticipated driving in it. And it is a good thing to fear when unaccustomed to it. I loved a white winter too much to move away. So every year I faced that fear. And every year, it was conquered. With every conquering year, it slowly diminished.

We are now half-way through winter, but I find valley snow particularly challenging because of the high wind potential. The flurries make me dizzy and threaten my visibility driving my nails into my tightly gripped steering wheel. The flatness of the terrain is different from the highways I became used to in Tahoe with definite borders and height you can almost feel. Our long sprawling highway and roads get lost in winter’s cover, and I’m not always sure where the road is! Though it appears one even surface under its sparkling blanket, I know there are deep ditches. Night can make it even more treacherous.

With it being day, we did hazard a drive. Frozen and packed down by the venturous few who traveled it, I could navigate the iced streets. But when snow began to fall and swirl in kaleidoscopic patterns around me, anxiety aroused. I felt nervous vulnerability knotting my stomach as the flakes and wind quickened the tempo of their wild, wintery dance. But neither snowfall nor blood pressure increased further because I completed my errand and drove away from the worsening storm.

Though the sun remained hidden, as if covered in snow above, the day was very bright and the reflective whiteness aided my confidence. As soon as I was out of any snow activity and merely ice skating in a two-ton vehicle, I was fine. The dogs and I returned safely. They remained perfectly still and calm throughout the drive. Like most of the drivers on the road, they concentrated composed. It was as if our lives depended on it … and they did.

Kellye Chapman is a Minden resident.