Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Big Snow, Cabin Fever
I was fifteen and two weeks into being stuck on the mountain. Such a deep snow had come to the hills that year. My father had gotten the truck off the mountain, but getting back up was impossible. I was so glad that school was out, but very bored. I had exhausted all forms of entertainment available to the mountain. I had tracked every animal through the woods, cut wood with my father every day and read till I could not sit any longer in one spot. I remember standing at the window looking out at the endless white with one last idea left. I could build a snow man? No, that was way to immature for a fifteen year old. There was no way that could be risked, what if someone saw? Fifteen was almost grown and one could not risk one's reputation with such childish things as snowman building! Yes, I remember thinking that! But the idea of a snow man led to a new idea. What could be uncool about building the biggest snowman in history?
I was soon in the back yard, forming a small, hard snowball. I packed snow around it till it was big enough to fill my arms. When building a giant snowman you should make sure to start with a well compacted bottom ball, I had thought. Finally it was big enough to start rolling, and I carefully planned out where to start so that I could finally end up in a good location to build when the bottom snow ball was so big I would be unable to move it.
The snow was wet and heavy and had packed on easily, just to make sure of total success I had stopped every few minutes and smacked the surface of the ball till it was hard as ice. My snowman would be like a giant, nine feet tall. I was planning on rolling the base to the edge of one of our garden walls and then shoving it over the wall. Then it would be at the perfect place for rolling the second body ball into place. After all I thought, this ball was already 3 feet across and getting pretty heavy.
Before long the ball was four feet tall and wide and very solid. I had found many slushy puddles and had used this to soak and pat down the snow. I stopped and leaned over the ice ball, trying to catch my breath as I scanned the yard where criss-cross paths now wound back and forth through the yard. Oh no! I had a problem! I was far from the drop off wall now and I feared that I would not get the ball back to it. I looked around trying to figure out how to save my day, a pole for leverage maybe? That did not work, a running start perhaps?
That did not work and was painful. I stood rubbing my sore arm and looking at the ball. Wow!, It was huge, like a giant snow ball from a cartoon, the ones that roll down mountain sides wiping out everything before them. I looked over my shoulder. Nothing but hill! Who needs a snowman, thought I. Now this was exciting, I thought. I could see it now rolling at great speeds, ripping down the mountain side that had held me captive for so long, to smash in a cloud of snow and noise at the bottom of the mountain. It would make up for all the days stuck on a mountain. Not only that it was clearing the snow from the road. I had a great plan!
I started pushing and shoving down the hill. It was not going to take off just yet. I would have to get to the crest of the hill where gravity would take control of the giant for me. The crest was a good quarter mile away. I could make it huge by then, I thought excitedly. It would take all I had for now it weighed hundreds of pounds but gravity seemed to wants this as much as I did. I pushed past the front porch. I pushed on down the lane a foot at a time. By now the ball was close to five feet tall, I knew this because I was five three and could just look over it. I now had to lean against it with my back and dig in my heels pushing till I was almost lying out on the road. The crest was within sight though and I tingled with excitement at the thought of that moment when I would shove and gravity would suddenly take it. A few more feet! And it could not come too soon; this ball was almost too big to move. It was taking everything in me to move it just a foot and it was now over five feet. The crest was three feet away. I dug in with everything and shoved. It resisted, and then suddenly I felt it, gravity taking it. I pushed harder with all I had. It was rolling! I jumped back, my heart pounding from exhaustion and excitement. Slowly it took off down the hill, it would pick up speed soon it would tear off down the mountain, rolling in an insane path of speed and freedom and terror. It was about to hurdle into...It rolled to a slow shaky plop and stopped.
I could not believe it. I shoved again. Nothing! I shoved and squirmed against the ball. It would not move, frozen in place. NO! I cried, no. I struggled and pushed till I could not move another inch. My lungs burned, my muscles burned, I was done. I sunk into a heap at the bottom of the snow ball. The snowball, now over five foot six was stuck fast into the middle of the road. In fact it almost filled the road. My dreams of a hurtling snowball were dead!
I headed back to the house, exhausted.
"What have you been up to", my mother asked?
"Making a big snowball", I sunk into the chair by the cook stove half frozen, and completely drained of hope and energy. I was still in that chair a few hours later when footsteps pounded across the front porch mixed with breathless laughter. Two neighbors stood at the door stomping snow from their feet and laughing till they nearly choked for oxygen.
"What are you all doing up here" my mother asked as she led them into the kitchen? This question made them laugh harder.
"We...we" gasp "we were...” laugh, gasp "...Trying to ..." gasp "...Plow... You out" laugh, gasp, laugh. My mother must have decided our good neighbors had been drinking, she had rolled her eyes at me.
"Well that's great!" She smiled "We need plowed out. We've been stuck for weeks and all we need is the road cleared a little and we can get out and about. Lisa would be glad of that; she's a little stir crazy right now." The two neighbors looked at each other and roared with laughter, pointing to me.
"She...she's the one", they laughed. They were bent over now laughing harder, and harder. “The ...big…Biggest...Damn…" laugh, gasp, point to Lisa, laugh harder.
"..Biggest dam snowball… we ever saw..." laugh, gasp, laugh. I sunk deeper in my chair. "I told Tim…" gasp "someone has the worst..." laugh and laugh "…The worst cabin fever…we have ever seen." They both dropped into chairs overcome with laughter. My mother looked at me confused, my father shook his head.
"I think our neighbors have been drinking' he laughed. Our neighbors shook their heads, in defense
"Honest to God Barclay, the biggest damn snowball I've ever seen", there they go again laughing and laughing.
"Can't get the plow around it…" laugh, gasp, "Can't push it out of the way. Two of us and a plow can't ...move ...it…" laugh and laugh. "I see this thing as we're coming up the road. What is it Paul, I ask?"
"A big damn snowball, I tell him", Paul fills in. I am now sitting so low in my seat I am almost on my head. My face is so hot and red. Now my mother, father and both neighbors are laughing till they cry.
"She is a strong girl" my father gasps out.
"We can't plow you out Barclay, you'll have to wait for it to melt", says Paul. "Going to be a long wait…" and they are laughing again.
"What were you thinking?"
What was I thinking? Right then I think of walking out into the snow and not stopping. Walking till to a new place where no one nows Lisa. The neighbors finally left, still laughing, mumbling about a bad case of cabin fever and wait till they tell the other neighbors about the huge snowball, and how "we could have gotten them off if only that snowball had not been in the way."
I walk to the snowball and see the clear road now plowed right up to the giant ball. So close to freedom, I think. So close. If it had not been for the snowball I could have been free to leave the mountain. I could have been free from my Snowball embarrassment. It was another full week before the ball melted enough to be moved. It's been 30 years waiting for my neighbors to quit laughing and reminding me about "…that year you made the biggest damn…" laugh, gasp...