Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Near-Perilous Mis-adventures of a Rather Non-adventurous Homeschool Mom

Alternately titled: Things that make you scream, pray, and say "GACK!" outloud.

Well, today was a day to go down in my own personal history of near-misses. While running some errands in town, I attempted to leave a parking lot to drive to my next errand. I say attempted, because once I neared the exit I realized I was toast. We had a good amount of snow overnight and it's still snowing now - and nothing in town had yet been plowed. Not the streets, not parking lots - nothing. As I neared the exit of the parking lot of course I had to slow down and that was more or less my doom. Once I slowed down, I was stuck. I couldn't go forward, or backward - I just sat there spinning my wheels, literally.

So I do what everyone does in such a situation; I throw up my hands and say "great" to no one in particular, and step outside into a foot of snow to see how bad it really is. Its bad. Real bad. Nearly a foot of snow and ice, hugging all four tires. I look at the van, then look at the cars and trucks driving by on the road, oddly not stopping to help me. I can't imagine why city folk would bother with such trivial matters like stopping to help a lady stuck in the snow, but eventually two women did stop, and were kind enough to push my van (read that again men, TWO WOMEN STOPPED AND PUSHED MY VAN) until I was on the road. I thanked them profusely and wish to thank them again. So, for the two kind ladies in the little red car that pushed the gray van out of the parking lot by the Woodstock Farmer's Market today, THANK you so much for your kindness and selflessness.

It would have been great, had my adventures stopped there. They didn't. I had 2 more stops to make and then I could go home. At this point I still hadn't seen any plowing going on, but I managed to get my other errands done and head toward the highway to go home. I noted the time as I was leaving town and heading out toward the country, where I live. I noted the time because a.) Kev had to leave for work this afternoon and b.) I wanted to be home in time to get my cold, wet boots off, grab a hot coffee and catch the Dividing Line. I briefly considered blogging about the nice city ladies that helped me, but other than that my thoughts were on the road and being careful. The roads were mostly ice/snow packed and our van doesn't handle as well as the last van, so I was being extra-extra careful all the way.

A good distance before my turn, I began to slow down. Everything was fine for a few seconds, until the van started to slide. Everything happened so fast I'm not really sure which order any of it happened in. I do know that just before this, there were all kinds of big trucks barrelling down the highway, in the oncoming lane. It's a busy highway and it was busy today as well. I had the morbid thought also, before the van even started to slide that if for some reason I crashed, I hoped the Lord would be gracious and not let it hurt. I am a giant wimp when it comes to pain, and have been in a car accident before, and also hit by a car once. It hurts, and it hurts a lot.

Suddenly, I wasn't just sliding, I was fishtailing. I tried every "this is what you do in case you're sliding in the snow/ice" tip I've ever heard, or read. I steered into the skid, I let off the gas, let off the brake, let go of the steering wheel at one point, but nothing I did helped, it just got worse. The back of the van was swinging back and forth from left to right, and it seemed like it was gaining momentum with each time. First I was in my lane, then the oncoming lane, then back to my own. I have no idea how many times this happened, but I did notice there wasn't a single oncoming car or truck. The van was completely out of control, and my adrenaline was rushing at 150% when I simply prayed "please Lord", closed my eyes and slammed on the brakes with all my might. When I stopped I was back on my side of the highway, about halfway down an embankment, just past the turn off to my road. I wasn't hurt, I didn't hit anything, no one hit me, and I just started to laugh and cry at the same time and say "thank you Lord!" over and over again.

While sitting there laughing and crying, likely appearing to look like a complete lunatic, I heard a tap on the window and looked to see a woman standing out there in the blizzard like conditions. As it turns out, she was a police officer on her way to work, and saw the whole thing. She checked to make sure I was okay, then called a tow truck for me. She advised me to keep my flashers on (I've never even used them, but it was the first thing I did after I realized I wasn't dead. I guess I just kicked into "practical auto-pilot"). All the while I could look directly across the cornfield and see my own kitchen porch.

So I just sat there, and waited. While I waited several cars & trucks stopped to see if I was okay and/or needed help. One man offered to pull me out but I told him the tow was coming and thank you anyway. About that time I could see Kevin hoofing it in the driving snow, across the field toward the van. He said he wasn't even sure it was me, but even if it wasn't, it was someone stuck in the embankment that needed help.

Two more trucks stopped, one picked up Kevin and drove him to the van, and another full of men stopped and said "we don't need a tow, we've got a chain, we'll get them out in no time". The couple that drove Kevin to the van then drove me back to the house. Turns out, they're country folk too and live just one dirt road away from us. The men in the other truck got out and hooked up the chain and pulled the van right out. Yay!!

No damage to me, no damage to the van, and we both made it back home safe and sound. I was (and still am) just struck with such gratitude through all of this today. First of all, the Lord was so incredibly merciful to clear the highway of oncoming vehicles while I was spinning around out there. No one hit me and I didn't hit anyone or anything. Then He saw fit to make sure the first person on the scene was a law enforcement officer, who could call for help (our cell phone is out of time and sitting here on my printer). Next, He sent country folk to do what country folk do - help a neighbor in a time of need. With all due respect to nice folk in the city, country folk just have that hospitality & generosity thing down 10,000% more accurately than city folk.

So I am deeply, deeply grateful today. Thank you to the nice couple with the sleeping toddler in the back seat that drove Kevin to the van, then drove me home. Thank you to the first man who offered to tow me out. Thank you to the lady cop who stopped so quickly. Thank you to the men who did hook the chain up and pulled the van out.

I did miss the Dividing Line, but that's okay. I'll catch the archives. :-)

Oh, and one last thing. When I got home I told my daughter what had happened between her house (her place was my last stop) and mine. I told her I was going to blog about it, and after she scolded me and said "MOM, don't EVER do that again, you scared me!", she told me to add this:

"It's a good thing I used the facilities at my daughter's house before I left".
Spring is looking better all the time.

I think I need a nap now.