Sunday, December 04, 2005

Celebrations and Lessons

J turned 30 on the day when it was 22 degrees below zero.

We spent the day rummaging for a bit at the Catholic Rummage Sale. Then we lingered for a bit at the VFW Auxiliaries' Christmas Craft Show. Then I spent a couple of hours trying to teach myself how to frost a cake while J. hopped on the snowmachine and ran down the river with his boss, who was trying out a new helmet that stays de-frosted by some mechanism that plugs into the snowmachine.

Although the helmet appeared to work perfectly, I wasn't such a grand instructor in the arts of cake decoration. J. returned just in time to find me covered in green frosting and lamenting that I had just spent all my money on a sugary dada-ism rendition of a snow-machiner. Fortunately he is a good supportive sport - and gave me lots of encouragement in my fervent efforts to make a power-ranger cake tin and 10 tubes of artifically-flavoured-and-colored frosting produce a likeness of him. The symbolism of my boyfriend assuring me of the value of my efforts, while he himself was "frosted" in a white layer of snow and ice (he even had icicles hanging from his eyebrows and eyelashes) and I was "frosted" in green, was not lost on me. We had some good laughs. And I was so appreciative of the good energies he swept into the house with him, that I did some frosting touches to highlight those big, strong biceps!

But I probably will not ever again spend a day decorating a cake with a battery of store-bought and artifically-flavoured-and-colored frosting. That was my first lesson of the day. I guess every thing has to be tried once - and this was my one time trying to decorate a focusing on the appearance, rather than the taste, of a dessert. Henceforth, I'm sticking to pies, tarts and the carmelized pear gingerbread that I had originally envisioned would be holding his candles.

Around 7, we shimmied into our winter gear, packed up the hyper-sugared cake and headed over to M's house, where we shimmied out of our winter gear and enjoyed a grand evening of corn and potato chowder and Texas Hold 'Em Poker. Entertainment having a prime value here, our crew of 8 made a show of singing happy birthday twice. And J. did so well at the poker, that he came home with heavy pockets brimming with Canadian coins!

Around midnight, we shimmied back into the winter gear and headed home. Just as we got to our driveway, we decided that we should drive over and see what time a store opened up in the morning. J attempted a U-turn, following almost the identical path for u-turns that he has used over-and-over every time we've left the driveway. This time, however, the truck must have been a few inches off.

We got stuck.

It was midnight and the temperature had fallen to almost 27 degrees below. The truck was stuck well - it wouldn't move forward, it wouldn't reverse. J. tried jumping on the back fender simultaneously with my efforts to reverse. We even put the big, 120 pound dog, in the back to see if a little weight would make the tires less likely to spin. (Puck was allowed out too, but after 10 minutes he fleed back to the warmth of the house.) When our efforts succeeded only in getting us more stuck, J. sent me inside, correctly noting that the symptoms of my cold were getting outrageous noticeable in the cold. He followed me in, changed into his layers of arctic gear (adding a face make to the winter attire) and grabbed a rope.

When I came out to check on the progress a half-hour later, I found J. coordinating efforts with a young girl in a big black truck and a neighbor who had decide to combine the opportunity to assist with a chance to let his dog out.

The coordinated efforts worked, and the truck was finally tugged out of the snow ditch around 1:20 a.m.

Smiles, handshakes, deeply-felt gratitude were exchanged. And a very important second lesson for the day was learned: always keep a rope in the truck.

We don't know when we'll need it, either to pull ourselves out or to pass forward the favour of two very generous and kind people who voluntarily ventured out into 27 below temperatures to help a stranger.

How many places are there where people would stay out there in a coldness so cold that it slaps to help a stranger? Especially a stranger hidden by a black face mask? Wouldn't most people just leave it? wait till the daybreak? or tell them to call a tow-truck? How many places are there where people would stay out there, and keep on trying and trying and trying? Refusing to give up until the stranger's problem was fixed?

The third lesson wasn't really a lesson. It was a good reminder.

We are lucky to live here and to have so much to learn!


Blogger FishTaxi said...

There is an unwritten law in Alaska that you never pass up a hitch-hiker or a disabled vehicle on the side of the road in the winter. People could die if you didn't help. and you never know when you could be stuck or hitch-hiking.

Happy Birthday J.!

So did you ever find out if a store was open?

1:42 AM  

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