It's never too late to learn
I hope the Easter Bunny has snow boots. Who'd have thought we'd have to bring out the snow shovels again? And all of this just when I was getting ready to do spring yard work. And that's saying something, I generally put things off as long as I can.
I hope the Easter Bunny has snow boots.
Who'd have thought we'd have to bring out the snow shovels again? And all of this just when I was getting ready to do spring yard work. And that's saying something, I generally put things off as long as I can.
What a setback then to drive into town Tuesday morning only to find myself implementing driving skills learned on the lakes while ice fishing this winter. I'd never been very good at knowing what to do when going into a full blown donut caused by slick conditions. Do I steer into the skid? Do I steer out of it? Do I throw my hands up off the steering wheel, close my eyes and pray that it ends well?
Generally, I'd go the third route and accompany it with a girl scream. If I was still heading in the right direction and not had an accident (and there is more than one kind of accident), I would generally slow up to a 15 mile-per-hour crawl. Which was good for me but not always pleasant for those following me who perhaps had a better grasp on winter driving.
I had some skid lessons this past winter ice-fishing season. Oh, it wasn't intentional. In fact, driving on a lake was always worse for me -- scared me to death. At least if you skid on a highway there isn't a chance of sinking into 40 feet of water before you come out of the skid.
A friend and I had invited an older couple along with us fishing one day. I was driving. As the season progressed I became a little more comfortable with driving on the lake and was tooling across an expanse of slick ice with no snow cover. I had to have been going at least 20. Call me Mario. The truck started to skid. Not just a little swivel on the ice but a large full-blown circle, heading us back in the opposite direction. Somewhere at about the 35 degree spot of the circle, above the sound of my scream, I heard someone say something about open water.
"Stay away from the open water," she said.
I opened my eyes.
Luckily, it was merely a dark spot on at least two feet of ice. Open water had given in to the cold many weeks before.
As the season went on, my friend (because he's crazy) inadvertently gave me lessons on what to do in case you went into a skid on ice. Driving at what I consider totally unreasonable speeds he would go into an intentional spin. It was a good year for it with the cold weather (thick ice) and minimal snow (open expanse). I became a little more comfortable after a while. It was kind of like a carnival ride. It actually became a bit exhilarating. I even started to keep my eyes open. I watched as he turned into a fishtail and righted the truck. I began to implement what I had learned when I was behind the wheel. Nothing to the extreme, of course. I mean, a little fishtailing would still initiate a small pre-scream lump in my throat, but I was able to right the direction I was heading in.
So imagine my surprise this morning, while mumbling under my breath about a snow storm at Easter time, when my truck started heading for the ditch. I should have known better. I'd already seen several cars down there and had actually driven around a wrecker pulling an unfortunate motorist back to the road. But sometimes it just sneaks up on you.
A small patch of slick road had stolen any sort of traction and my rear-end swung out to the right -- and then to the left. Pretty soon I was doing a little dance down the road, and the icy spots weren't letting up. I couldn't believe it. This snowstorm is worse than I thought, I thought to myself.
And then it hit me. My rear-end had swung out to the right -- and then (this is the biggy) to the left. I had automatically turned into the fishtail without even giving it much thought. I was still heading in the right direction. I was not in the ditch, I'd kept my eyes open the entire time and hadn't even thought of screaming. I even continued listening to local announcers quiz a caller to our local radio station on who's dead and who's alive.
Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?
And who knows, with as freaky as Minnesota weather can be, I may be implementing my newfound skills long after the Easter Bunny has gone back to his den. Perhaps while I'm on my way into town to pick up the Memorial Day watermelon.