My Mind

My Mind
This is my mind

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ooh, look! It's white out

It's bleedin' cold outside! Out to bring in the trashcan and froze to the bone. Guess it's something to do with this getting old thing. When I was young (and stupid) I would ride to work with the windows down in this kind of cold. 65 with the wind forming ice cicles on my nose. At home I'd keep the windows open during the night with the heat off. A couple of blankets was enough. I drew the line at showering in cold water, however. Now? Heck no. I'm investing in some long johns.
Iceland was the land of ice and snow plus winds of 80 miles an hour. It was the only country which sported snow falling sideways. While I was stationed there via USAF I became acclimated. Walking between quonset huts I would wear only the GI issue raincoat which was a light nylon like material thinly coated within with rubber. That over my uniform was enough to keep me warm. Well, I wouldn't have attempted to sleep outdoors but I was comfortable enough for short jaunts. Young. Stupid. Remember?
I was married during that time and my, then, wife was able to accompany me compliments of the US gubmint. She was a tiny lady back then and the heavy winds picked her up one day. I had her hand in mine and my other hand held tight to a flag pole just in reach. She waved like a flag cracking in the wind. If I hadn't caught her at that moment she would have sailed up up and away. It was one of times in life when the action of a split second can have major impact on a life. I caught her. What if I hadn't?
We drove into Reykjavik one day. It was a simple trip to buy Christmas presents. We had a small white VW which was perfect for Icelandic roads. Both of them. While in Reykjavik the sky grew grey and a light snow began to fall.
"Time to start back," I said.
"One more shop," she said.
"OK," I said.
When we came out of the store fat juicy flakes smacked us in the face. My shoes sank into the layer of snow that had accumulated.
"Hurry. Let's get back," I yelled as we slipped and slid on the sidewalk running for the car.
We threw our packages in the back and hopped in. My snow chains were at the house. I wasn't worried though. My tires had studs. No problem. That is until we came to a stop at the top of the hill. If only that car had not come to a complete stop it wouldn't have happened. The houses on either side began to move in the opposite direction. I hit the brake harder. Those houses began to fly past. In the wrong direction! Then came the sliding sound from the locked wheels. When I looked back the person in the car framed by my back window was yelling in silence while frantically reversing his car. He beat me to the bottom of the hill and avoided hitting the car at the intersection. My car slid to a halt just beyond the intersection. I got out and apologized. I think his answer in Icelandic was not a flattering one.
Back into the car and up the hill with no stops. A turn and a few yards took us onto the long stretch to Keflavik. Snow coated the windshield while the wipers struggled to clear it.
"Keep going. Don't stop," the little woman shouted. I gave her my look of thanks.
On I drove. The snow piled higher and higher. The sky lost its deep grey color as the snow slapped the car in the whistling wind. When we arrived in Keflavik our VW was plowing through the two foot accumulation. We stopped. The snow slapped the car and sticking. Opening the doors we stepped into a whiteout. There was so much coming from the sky the only thing to be seen was nothing, only the white of heavy heavy snow. We stumbled to the house. We brushed the heavy snow coat to the floor. There was enough to build a small snowman inside from that fallout.
After a hot cup of cocoa laced with rum we turned on the radio. It was then we discovered our peril on the roads.
"All traffic has been stopped. It is too dangerous to be on the roads so please stay indoors. Do not go out for the next 10 hours." The radio station on the base was warning all dependents to remain inside not to venture out into this storm. All of those living off base scheduled for duty were ordered to stay home. I did. With no regrets, I might add.

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