Derrel--one of the world's most delightful people--grew up hearing this saying: "Big snow, little snow. Little snow, big snow. " This wisdom came from the Indians. Perhaps the Piutes, who lived in and around Kanab, Utah where Derrel grew up. There were Navajos Indians living there too. Derrel doesn't know exactly which tribe had the saying. Perhaps both. Perhaps all the Indian tribes who live in parts of the country where snow is prevalent have this saying.
I just visited with Derrel on the phone and he says he can hear the Indians say it still. Slowly, with dignity. "Big snow." (Pause) "Little snow." (Pause, pause.) Little snow." (Pause.) "Big snow."
When the snowflakes are big the accumulated snowfall will be small. When the snowflakes are little the accumulated snowfall will be big. Derrel says that through the years he has seen this proven to be true almost 100% of the time. Since Derrel told Phil this about ten years ago I have observed the same.
Today was a little snow, big snow day. The snow sifted down, as if the angels, dusting Christmas cookies with powdered sugar were making a mess in the Heavenly kitchen. I was driving with my daughter, Elizabeth, in the powdered sugar snow. At first it was fine, the windshield wipers took the sifting off with no problems.
We went to Borders. We browsed for a l-o-n-g time. When we came out the car was covered. The side mirrors, which I didn't notice, looked like oblong snowballs. We got back on the road, the v-e-r-y slippery road, and when I needed to change lanes I looked in the side-oblong-snowballs and realized I had a problem. We rolled the windows down, scrapped the snow off but it was frozen in diamonds underneath. With our fingernails we scraped. It didn't make much difference.
I drove to a store--that shall be un-named--to see if they had any good toys I might need to buy for the grandkids. I am not mentioning the name because this store gives my daughter the shivers--she might be somewhat of a store-snob--and she spent most of my in-store-shopping-time in the car, freezing to death and fogging the windows.
The savvy store had printed a $5.00 off coupon and it was like a free five-dollar bill, pulling me in. I did find what I was hoping to, which I won't mention here because there is a slight, very slight chance the parents of those grandkids might read this blog and say to the grandkids, "I know what Grandma and Grandpa are getting you for Christmas." There is nothing more annoying than someone who knows a secret, a secret about you, and taunts you with it. My children take every opportunity to taunt. They have the annoying gene. It comes from my husband's side, I'm pretty sure. Okay, there is a slight chance it comes from mine. Slight.
I stashed my wonderful purchases in the back of the car and got in the driver's seat. I looked at my blue-tinged daughter and said, "Where to now?"
"Barnes and Noble," she said. (She has a hard time getting her fill of bookstores. She writes like a dream, and absolute dream--I am so jealous--and one day her books will be on the shelves. Bookstore air is an elixir to her.)
Backing up was an act of faith, due to Elizabeth's breath coating the windows, and both of us hung out the windows to make sure we weren't running over Rudolph, .
Then I proceeded to slide all over the road. I tried to put 4-wheel drive on but since I have the technological-non-functioning-gene it wouldn't work. Cars, with all their technological innards, enjoy taunting me. There's a lot of taunting going on in this world.
"Are you sure you want to go to Barnes and Noble?" I asked.
No answer. I looked over at her white face and clinched knuckles. "You better just take me home," she said in a weak voice.
"I was going to buy you lunch at Cafe Rio and you were going to come home and download my pictures and show me how to put pictures on my blog."
"Not today," she said, color starting to come back into her face. "Just take me home." Obviously starvation was preferable to what she perceived my driving might lead to.
I drove the car, slipping and sliding but because I grew up driving in snow I knew what to do to come out of a slide. If I didn't we would have done 360's. Lots of 360's. As the car slipped and slid and as I pulled it out of the slides the color left her face permanently. She may have to use tanning cream until she's ninety.
We drove down University Avenue and I pointed out a stand of trees, frosted with snow and a wire fence, wrapped in whiteness.
"Isn't that beautiful?" I asked, trying to ignore the fear we both felt because of the road conditions.
No comment. She had no interest in beauty. She wanted to go to her apartment, where it was safe. Were things didn't slide into each other.
So I took her home and sure enough, the car slipped into the gutter. Because it could and because of the taunting it so enjoys. I couldn't drive out of this one. I could back up but could not go forward. I didn't want to back home in the sifting, powdered sugar snow so I had her enlist the help of her friends and they pushed me out. I drove in first gear for two blocks and then, miraculously, the 4-wheel drive kicked in. It waited until my bloodless-faced child was gone. It so loved to give her a good scare, my taunting car.
I drove twenty miles an hour--or less--the five miles home. I passed every policeman in the city, helping people out of smashed cars. One three car pileup had the middle car tipped in the air like a stink bug. I wonder how the end car felt as it watched the rear end of the middle car plow into it's windshield.
So, today was a little snow, big snow day. I don't know if the Indians have any wisdom about the slipperiness of the snow but if they do, I'd like to know what it is. The next time those conditions are right I'm staying home. Bookstore or no bookstore--bargains or no bargains. I'm staying home.