Greetings, my friends and neighbors. If I sound a little more chummy than usual, it’s because the big snow has made me feel a renewed connection to my fellow human beings. Yes, it’s true! And I’ll tell you why.
On Friday, when we started our daily commute from Nelson County (yeah, I know), we were laughing about the forecast. Eighteen inches? Pshaw. That never happens here. Hardened veterans of serious-winter places like Ohio and Massachusetts, we simply didn’t believe that we should take any precautions whatsoever in response to the predicted snow.
Our cavalier attitude led us not only to not leave town early that evening, but to actually hang around for an extra hour, which put us on I-64 about 6pm. Two hours later, we arrived at the turnoff to Rte. 151. Though this would have normally taken only 20 minutes, we still weren’t worried. But 151 turned out to be a madhouse. Dead-stopped traffic. People inching up hills and giving up halfway, only to block those behind them. Rumors of two jackknifed tractor-trailers somewhere around D’Ambola’s.
To make a long story short, we found we couldn’t make it past a certain hill, so we returned to a nearby gas station and hung out in the parking lot contemplating a night in our vehicle, until a very, very, very kind person offered to drive us home in his four-wheel-drive truck. He ended up going the back way to avoid traffic–think one-lane road, sans guardrail–and brought us right to our driveway. It was 1am, seven hours after we’d left town. I’ve never been so happy to sleep in my own bed.
Over the following two days, we gave and received more kindness from many of our neighbors, in the form of homemade soup, help with shoveling, and simple friendly greetings. The sense of community was palpable, as it had been out there on 151 with strangers helping to push each other’s cars.
Lessons I’ve learned, or re-learned:
1. Nature always bats last.
2. Our usual sense of power–that we can get around so easily and be so independent from other people because of our fancy machines–is a razor’s edge away from collapsing.
3. Luckily, most folks still remember that we’re all in this together, and can respond appropriately. With various environmental crises unfolding as we speak, I predict we’ll be testing this theory again in our lifetimes.
4. Virginia really can get a big snow.
You feel me, folks?