Thursday, February 15, 2007

Buried in the Wild Wood

My! it was fine, coming through the snow as the red sun was rising and showing against the black tree-trunks! As you went along in the stillness, every now and then masses of snow slid off the branches suddenly with a flop! making you jump and run for cover.

Snow-castles and snow-caverns had sprung up out of nowhere in the night -- and snow bridges, terraces, ramparts -- I could have stayed and played with them for hours.
- The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Today we are buried underneath layers upon layers of quiet, heavy snow. This morning I carelessly ventured out to the dentist (on 1/2 hr of sleep, damn you addictive vlogs to hell!) and Highway 89 was mighty treacherous, to say the least.

It was like a guessing game trying to pick out hints of the road while being engulfed in a white universe of endless white on white. And then a truck would speed by on your left and almost run you off the road in a blinding cloud of white and slush. Oof, I took the normal roads home.

I approach bad weather driving like a typical heedless/clueless Californian. It never occurs to me that my little Japanese car won't be able to make it up the steep hill of Main St. My first winter after moving back to VT, I got stuck on this hill when a car in front of me stopped. Instead of freaking out, I just put the car in park and laughed my ass off. It was so strangely amusing to me - I was stuck on a hill in Vermont and didn't know how to get home, why was that so funny?

The hill in Winooski almost got me today when a car in front of us stopped suddenly (NEVER stop on a hill when there is ice to contend with - argh!), but I managed to slowly inch my way forward despite the pull of gravity.

My windshield wipers were caked up with frozen muck and left thick icy streaks across my line of vision, making it next to impossible to discern shapes through the fog. Luckily, my ever-useful Jedi senses were able to guide me home safely in 0% visibility.

It all worked out in the end even if I did get stuck when pulling into my driveway which has mountains of snow still accumulating as we speak - thanks snow plows! It only took half an hour of crazy shoveling to detach the thick wet caked-on snow crust from my car's low underbelly.

By the time I stumbled into the warm house, I felt like I was returning from an exhausting, tribulation-filled journey and a tiring battle waged with the wild elements. I kissed the ground to give thanks to the gods for sparing me! OK, I may be exaggerating a wee bit there but I was glad to be home.

Ah well, it is nice to see the weather striking back. Feels safe to be buried (without being dead), safe and snug in our little hovel. Hope my freelance gig gets cancelled tomorrow. I am not looking forward to digging out the car again and braving the white-out. Snowy VT montage on its way eventually...

This weather reminds me of The Wind in the Willows when Mole and Ratty get lost in a storm and go to visit Badger's lovely cozy little home underneath the ground. As the snow continues to fall and engulf us in its quiet, I can almost imagine spending the rest of my days underneath its dark surface and living off of roots and canned beans. Perhaps we could grow carrots in the basement? Not too bad a life, really.

`Once well underground,' he said, `you know exactly where you are. Nothing can happen to you, and nothing can get at you. You're entirely your own master, and you don't have to consult anybody or mind what they say. Things go on all the same overhead, and you let 'em, and don't bother about 'em. When you want to, up you go, and there the things are, waiting for you.'
- The Wind in the Willows

The story of the Wild Wood and the Humans that Once Lived there...will this be our fate one day...?

Well, very long ago, on the spot where the Wild Wood waves now, before ever it had planted itself and grown up to what it now is, there was a city -- a city of people, you know. Here, where we are standing, they lived, and walked, and talked, and slept, and carried on their business. Here they stabled their horses and feasted, from here they rode out to fight or drove out to trade. They were a powerful people, and rich, and great builders. They built to last, for they thought their city would last for ever.'

`But what has become of them all?' asked the Mole.

`Who can tell?' said the Badger. `People come -- they stay for a while, they flourish, they build -- and they go. It is their way. But we remain. There were badgers here, I've been told, long before that same city ever came to be. And now there are badgers here again. We are an enduring lot, and we may move out for a time, but we wait, and are patient, and back we come. And so it will ever be.'

`Well, and when they went at last, those people?' said the Mole.

`When they went,' continued the Badger, `the strong winds and persistent rains took the matter in hand, patiently, ceaselessly, year after year. Perhaps we badgers too, in our small way, helped a little -- who knows? It was all down, down, down, gradually -- ruin and leveling and disappearance. Then it was all up, up, up, gradually, as seeds grew to saplings, and saplings to forest trees, and bramble and fern came creeping in to help.

Leaf-mould rose and obliterated, streams in their winter freshets brought sand and soil to clog and to cover, and in course of time our home was ready for us again, and we moved in. Up above us, on the surface, the same thing happened. Animals arrived, liked the look of the place, took up their quarters, settled down, spread, and flourished. They didn't bother themselves about the past -- they never do; they're too busy.

The place was a bit humpy and hillocky, naturally, and full of holes; but that was rather an advantage. And they don't bother about the future, either -- the future when perhaps the people will move in again -- for a time -- as may very well be. The Wild Wood is pretty well populated by now; with all the usual lot, good, bad, and indifferent -- I name no names. It takes all sorts to make a world. But I fancy you know something about them yourself by this time.'


Chris said...

Dang, be careful! I love snow, other than shoveling it or driving in it. I am a huge baby when it comes to driving in weather such as this but love to look at it. The Wind in the Willows is the first book I ever read and still a favorite... I am a Mole who still secretly hopes to be a Badger someday. Subject to occasional fits of Toad. How about you?

It's still amazing to me how quickly and thoroughly nature can convert the landscape. Very humbling.

Mmmm roots! Keep warm and take it easy on the roads. Enjoy the underground for awhile.

la-la-lani said...

No taking photos while driving in treacherous weather!

Sara said...

Damn, and I thought North Adams was bad right now!! And my college decided not to completely plow pretty much the entire campus. Silly girl for going out in the blizzard!! At least you're ok.

Eva the Deadbeat said...

Hee hee, silly girl for taking pics while driving on the highway in the blizzard! that is so me. nevermind the hurricane, just make sure to get good footage of it destroying your house! i know my priorities! ;)

They didn't plow your campus Sara? Did that mean no school? UVM had to call school off for two days because no one wanted to come to work to plow the place. Who can blame them? It is treacherous out there, even for walkers!

3 hours of shovelling later and our driveway still looks like a snowbomb hit it. mountains of snow line the driveway and there is nowhere else to put what is left? will i be able to get my car out in an hour? who knows...?

Oooh, what Wind in the Willow character am I? that would be a good personality test. I think I am pretty much happy-go-lucky Ratty with dashes of self-centered Toad and easy going Mole and pushy Badger thrown in.

But the precise percentages would be interesting. probably everyone can fit in there somewhere. When buried due to winter weather, it is nice to wrap oneself up with little kid books, a pot of tea and hot blueberry muffins...mmmm...