Getting my son to school, the comedy of errors begins. Because the locking mechanism on my Subaru has frozen, the rear door won’t open unless I do it from the outside. I pull the parking brake, step out and find myself spread eagled on a sheath of black ice. Whenever I turn off the radio, the doors lock, and if it’s below zero, the doors lock repeatedly as I drive.
Cabin-bound, all windows shut, I drive to my neighbour’s road, which they allow me to use, since mine is impassible. Due to high snowbanks, the gate will open only downhill, and I have parked too close. With the driver’s door open, Rafe and Fanny have seized the opportunity to exit and sniff the tumbleweed. As we are still a mile from home, I sternly order them back in the car before backing down the road to start over.
Again, I exit the car, this time shutting the door behind me. When I return to the car, it’s locked. As it’s Monday morning, I’m not likely to find anyone at home. I walk around the car, its engine running, and check the locks. All are shut, windows too, but since the mechanism is so screwy, maybe the lock will give if I tinker a little.
So I do, clicking the driver’s door handle in and out, ESP-ing my mutt to open the lock, but, of course, she doesn’t. After thirty seconds vigorously jostling the handle, it comes off in my hand. I feel like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times. What next? I can walk in the freezing cold toward a neighbour, but there is no guarantee she will be there. Naturally, my cell phone is inside the car, but I wouldn’t get reception anyway. I know what’s needed, but who has a Slim Jim lying around? More importantly, will my dogs get asphyxiated?
The only remedy is to break into my own car. Selecting a big rock, I motion the dogs away from my chosen window, but of course they move toward me. Afraid of hurting them, my first attempt fails. The second time, it works, safety glass coating the dogs and seats. I will pay for this in more ways than one, I think, as I drive through the gate up to the cabin.
On the deck, my snowshoes are frozen to the wood. My front door won’t open due to the ridge of ice before it. Fortunately, I have a side door out of the wind, which works fine. The cabin is snug and warm, but I can’t tell if I have water because the door to the wellhouse and repaired pump switch is encrusted with three feet of snow, and I haven’t the energy to attempt all that shoveling.
After completing my various tasks, I load my son’s red torpedo sled with boxes of stuff and his basketball, which keeps tumbling into the snow, cartons capsizing immediately. I think wistfully of sled dogs, but mine are out of sight.
Surrounding me is one of the most beautiful places on earth, blanketed with pristine snow beneath an azure blue sky and shining sun, no evidence of humanity anywhere. Ever the comedienne, I continue to tug the sled up the hill, but, in line with my earlier slapstick performance, cartons and ball keep spilling out.
The solution is to push. Ten steps huffing, then rest. At this rate, it will take forever to get up the hill, and it does.
By the time I get back to the highway, I must drive fast to the slick-iced parking lot outside school to pick up my son.
Bound for town, the freezing wind fills the back seat, forcing the dogs up front. My predicament keeps making me laugh, even after I telephone the first glass place, who says they no longer drive up the mountain to fix windows, or the second place, who says sure, they’ll come up – in two weeks.
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