Thursday, December 8, 2011

A snowy reprieve

I awoke in my own bed, with a view of crystal clear skies and a wintry white landscape of overnight fallen snow, from my bedroom window. The unpleasant option of spending the night in a freezing car, parked at a closed gas station, with my two house guests for the weekend, by a miracle, didn't materialize after all.

The long slog to this outcome started with heavy rains battering us as we left the Poughkeepsie train station from Manhattan. Piling into my car quickly we braved the buffeting of rain, with the windshield wipers at full speed, for almost an hour, as we made our way north to Columbia County. The rain gave way to sleet and we slowed the speed of the car, as the road surface became slippery, and the windows thickened with a congealing slush. I had heard earlier that snow was on its way but had hoped we would skirt the brunt of it, as we sometimes did.

The heavy sleet turned out to be the more desired climactic condition as it soon turned into flurries and then a full blown snowstorm. We tried to make light of it, commenting on the interesting pattern that the flakes formed as they rushed to block our view of anything else on the road. The desolate roadway had a few tire tracks that we tried to follow in an attempt to remain on the road and avoid skidding on the icy surface. The white-out conditions and the reduced speed left me disoriented and unaware of where I was on the oft traveled road. Suddenly a phone call from Joe, who had landed at the Albany Airport and was making his way home from the north, was met with concern and trepidation as he told of over shooting his exit and being mired on a shoulder embankment, in the pounding snow, twenty miles away in the opposite direction. My first thought was to go get him once I dropped off our guests. With our godson, Ricon Wrenn's cellphone running out of batteries, my own cell lost a week earlier, and Angelique Anderson's phone indicating a loss of power and of signal, intermittently, we vowed to stay in touch with Joe.

The mounting snow on the road had us traveling at 20 mph, with an ever-present undercurrent of subtle and terrifying skids along the way. The mounting fear that we would eventually slide into an embankment and be stuck there all night led me to get off the Taconic Parkway an exit early. Hoping that the roads would have been cleared more was met with disappointment as the thick snow with tire tracks proved harder to negotiate. Steering first in one direction and then another, like a sailboat tacking along a roadway we inched forward, gaining momentum on the downhill, and spinning tires on the slightest incline. We had put off changing to winter tires because of a busy schedule and a deluding warm fall season. The delayed mistake was proving to be very costly emotionally for myself and my intrepid guests.

Joe calls us on the phone, with the ebbing battery, and tells us a truck had arrived to help another person, stuck where he was, and possible he might get the truck to help him. My concern for his driving the twenty miles home on the Parkway was weighing on me, knowing he hadn't changed his tires either. If we were having trouble, surely he was too.

At least now passing darkened houses, which were going to be possible safe havens, we continued on, haltingly, toward a local gas station. Unfortunately, we overshot the entrance, sliding to a stop at the traffic intersection. Forging onward, fearing the effort of turning around, we passed a police car aiding a trapped car on our right. Perhaps it was the sight of someone else getting rescued, we suddenly careened off the road into someone's yard about fifty yards further ahead. Unable to go forward into a hedge or to backup, we knew we had had it. Three hours after starting this one hour journey, we had been forced to end it, on a cold roadway in front of a blackened house. Then suddenly a large white man runs towards us from his car, to ask if we were alright. I thought he had gotten stuck too but he had really just stopped to aid us. Using his formidable strength he proceeded to push our car out of the embankment. With a little maneuvering we were back on the road, tacking from one side to the other, with Gods hands moving us out of the way of the occasional oncoming vehicle. Our saving angel followed us to the gas station nearest our house, which was about five miles away before heading off to save others.

Now parked next to a filling stand, we weighed our options. Do we try to follow a road plow, that may or may not go all the way to our house, and risk getting stuck again on the outskirts of town at one thirty in the morning, or just wait there until the sun rose and the roads cleared for driving. Joe calls and weighs in that we needed to contact local friends, AAA, or a taxi service. Except for our friend Jelanie Bandele, the other calls went unanswered, and she was in Brooklyn. The chill in the car was beginning to wash over us as we gave into bedding down for the night there, when we saw a snow covered car turn the corner that we thought might be a taxi. Beeping my horn frantically, the car turned into the gas station and turned out to be a patrol car with a policeman named Sargent Guy. After explaining we were five miles from home but was afraid to try and get there he offered to drive us there himself. Angel Number Two, Sargent Guy of Livingston, packed us into his patrol car and drove us to our destination. He was patrolling the many communities that night for situations and people in distress like us. He used his spot light to light our path as we made it up the quarter mile long driveway to the house.

The relief of being back home at last allowed me to appreciate the glow of the white snow, emanating light across the grounds, as we trudged the length of the distance to the awaiting warm house. Upon walking in the door, we receive a call from Joe saying he found a motel to weather the rest of the night and we all slept peacefully that night, at last.


Anonymous said...


How harrowing...................Thanks goodness for angels and a powerful higher power who always was watching over ALL of you including Joe.............beautifully and powerfully told. Thanks for sharing AND the snow, from the warmth of your home, is absolutely beautiful.............Hugs and love ya much........Deborah

Anonymous said...

Thank God that you and JoJo arrived safely to your home,in times like these we need to remember that our dwelling is the omnipresence of the Infinite,and that no time,place,or situation can keep us from arriving at our port of safety. We are forever vouchsafed within by that which can never be disengaged from us.
Your story is such a poignant remender of this truth.

Thank you darling,I can't wait to see you and Joe and press the flesh.


Anonymous said...

So glad you both are safe. I just wanted to tell you that you are a fabulous writer.
Great photo. Happy Holidays

Jane Davenport

Anonymous said...


What a winter storm story and the magnificent wedding. I always enjoy your words and these are no exception.

Anonymous said...

I held my breath reading your account of your snowy drive and of Joe's travel woes, too. I was relieved to hear of your safety ! What a story ! Jeff.

Anonymous said...

Your writing is as beautiful as your paintings and photos. You are truly a renaissance man.

Anonymous said...

It is very pretty, glad you finally got home safe. I know now you are really looking forward to Salvador.

Anonymous said...


Damn, you write well! You are among my favorite writers. Your way with words seems so natural and expressive. Your snowy adventure was a joy to read. Winking smile

Hi to Joe.


Anonymous said...

…you should publish or promote Tunstill Dashing …make it available

to wire services, The GRIO (online) or other newsy outlets…

its really good and has news value …maybe could make you some



Anonymous said...

An amazing journey. I was riveted by your description. So glad it worked out for you all.