Cold Blue January Snow & Elizabeth

My neighbor Elisabeth (now long gone) who, by the time of this story, lived by herself in the middle of a three hundred acre hill farm, milked cows by hand and, even in her early seventies, would think nothing of walking a mile to my house. She didn’t seem to be bothered much by the darkness of winter. In fact, she didn’t seem to be bothered by much. Elisabeth always had a smile on her face.

One cold, snowy, January day, she drove her 1972 F250 pickup down to get the mail. Halfway down, she got stuck. Even with chains on all four wheels, low gear and in 4wd low, the truck slid and got caught in the ditch.

She got out, walked the last half-mile, collected her mail and knocked on my door. “Do you think you could give me a hand getting my truck back up the hill? I don’t want leave it in the middle of the road and get hit by the town truck.” I assured her the road crew wouldn’t hit her truck, but said, “give me a minute to get my boots on and lets have a look.”

She and I walked up the hill together. It was a cold, bright January day when you knew you were on the other side of the equinox, but still deep into winter. The snow squeaked under our boots as we walked, Elisabeth talking about her Guernsey’s while I thought about how I was going to talk an older woman out of the ditch in a vintage pickup.

Half a mile later, my nose and ears were cold but my hands and head were warm from the walk up. Being a good New Englander, Elisabeth had a shovel and some loose sand in the bed, along with an assortment of empty grain bags, bailing twine and miscellaneous hardware.

I grabbed the shovel and, as I dug a path through the snow berm, I asked if she wanted to drive the truck or did she want me to give it a try. She didn’t hesitate in asking. I dug a little more and she stood nearby watching. It was cold and clear with a brilliant blue sky and a slight breeze.

As I dug, I looked around at the truck, my hopeful exit out of the ditch, and at Elisabeth, whose red woolen hat was riding high on her head, framing her weather-beaten face. Her overalls were as muck-laden as you could imagine. Of all the days to get stuck, this was a pretty good one. I finished digging out the path, threw some sand down in a line in front of all four wheels, jumped in the truck and let it creep itself right out of the hole. It felt more like driving a tractor than a truck.

I wanted to drive the truck the rest of the way down the hill, but Elisabeth insisted I get it turned around right there and head her back home. She had chores to do. After negotiating a rather precarious twelve-point turn on a very narrow snow packed dirt road, I had the truck heading back up. I jumped out, asked her to call me when she got home. She went one way, I the other.

In that one common moment all could have been forgotten. It was just another day – but I have carried the ordinariness of that day with me for ten years. I can still see the line of sand in front of the tires, hear the low rumble of the F250 and imagine Elisabeth’s smile.My neighbor Elisabeth (now long gone) who, by the time of this story, lived by herself in the middle of a three hundred acre hill farm, milked cows by hand and, even in her early seventies, would think nothing of walking a mile to my house. She didn’t seem to be bothered much by the darkness of winter. In fact, she didn’t seem to be bothered by much. Elisabeth always had a smile on her face.

One cold, snowy, January day, she drove her 1972 F250 pickup down to get the mail. Halfway down, she got stuck. Even with chains on all four wheels, low gear and in 4wd low, the truck slid and got caught in the ditch.

She got out, walked the last half-mile, collected her mail and knocked on my door. “Do you think you could give me a hand getting my truck back up the hill? I don’t want leave it in the middle of the road and get hit by the town truck.” I assured her the road crew wouldn’t hit her truck, but said, “give me a minute to get my boots on and lets have a look.”

She and I walked up the hill together. It was a cold, bright January day when you knew you were on the other side of the equinox, but still deep into winter. The snow squeaked under our boots as we walked, Elisabeth talking about her Guernsey’s while I thought about how I was going to talk an older woman out of the ditch in a vintage pickup.

Half a mile later, my nose and ears were cold but my hands and head were warm from the walk up. Being a good New Englander, Elisabeth had a shovel and some loose sand in the bed, along with an assortment of empty grain bags, bailing twine and miscellaneous hardware.

I grabbed the shovel and, as I dug a path through the snow berm, I asked if she wanted to drive the truck or did she want me to give it a try. She didn’t hesitate in asking. I dug a little more and she stood nearby watching. It was cold and clear with a brilliant blue sky and a slight breeze.

As I dug, I looked around at the truck, my hopeful exit out of the ditch, and at Elisabeth, whose red woolen hat was riding high on her head, framing her weather-beaten face. Her overalls were as muck-laden as you could imagine. Of all the days to get stuck, this was a pretty good one. I finished digging out the path, threw some sand down in a line in front of all four wheels, jumped in the truck and let it creep itself right out of the hole. It felt more like driving a tractor than a truck.

I wanted to drive the truck the rest of the way down the hill, but Elisabeth insisted I get it turned around right there and head her back home. She had chores to do. After negotiating a rather precarious twelve-point turn on a very narrow snow packed dirt road, I had the truck heading back up. I jumped out, asked her to call me when she got home. She went one way, I the other.

In that one common moment all could have been forgotten. It was just another day – but I have carried the ordinariness of that day with me for ten years. I can still see the line of sand in front of the tires, hear the low rumble of the F250 and imagine Elisabeth’s smile.My neighbor Elisabeth (now long gone) who, by the time of this story, lived by herself in the middle of a three hundred acre hill farm, milked cows by hand and, even in her early seventies, would think nothing of walking a mile to my house. She didn’t seem to be bothered much by the darkness of winter. In fact, she didn’t seem to be bothered by much. Elisabeth always had a smile on her face.

One cold, snowy, January day, she drove her 1972 F250 pickup down to get the mail. Halfway down, she got stuck. Even with chains on all four wheels, low gear and in 4wd low, the truck slid and got caught in the ditch.

She got out, walked the last half-mile, collected her mail and knocked on my door. “Do you think you could give me a hand getting my truck back up the hill? I don’t want leave it in the middle of the road and get hit by the town truck.” I assured her the road crew wouldn’t hit her truck, but said, “give me a minute to get my boots on and lets have a look.”

She and I walked up the hill together. It was a cold, bright January day when you knew you were on the other side of the equinox, but still deep into winter. The snow squeaked under our boots as we walked, Elisabeth talking about her Guernsey’s while I thought about how I was going to talk an older woman out of the ditch in a vintage pickup.

Half a mile later, my nose and ears were cold but my hands and head were warm from the walk up. Being a good New Englander, Elisabeth had a shovel and some loose sand in the bed, along with an assortment of empty grain bags, bailing twine and miscellaneous hardware.

I grabbed the shovel and, as I dug a path through the snow berm, I asked if she wanted to drive the truck or did she want me to give it a try. She didn’t hesitate in asking. I dug a little more and she stood nearby watching. It was cold and clear with a brilliant blue sky and a slight breeze.

As I dug, I looked around at the truck, my hopeful exit out of the ditch, and at Elisabeth, whose red woolen hat was riding high on her head, framing her weather-beaten face. Her overalls were as muck-laden as you could imagine. Of all the days to get stuck, this was a pretty good one. I finished digging out the path, threw some sand down in a line in front of all four wheels, jumped in the truck and let it creep itself right out of the hole. It felt more like driving a tractor than a truck.

I wanted to drive the truck the rest of the way down the hill, but Elisabeth insisted I get it turned around right there and head her back home. She had chores to do. After negotiating a rather precarious twelve-point turn on a very narrow snow packed dirt road, I had the truck heading back up. I jumped out, asked her to call me when she got home. She went one way, I the other.

In that one common moment all could have been forgotten. It was just another day – but I have carried the ordinariness of that day with me for ten years. I can still see the line of sand in front of the tires, hear the low rumble of the F250 and imagine Elisabeth’s smile.

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