Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Skid Row

It snowed the other day…it caught us by surprise. Usually, here in Arkansas, we have several days notice and if even ONE flake falls, it is apparently a state law to head to the local grocery store and buy up all the bread and milk even if the next day’s forecast is 52 and sunny. It is a deep, deep fear to be stranded in a house with 3 kids and  no food and no power from a snowstorm. I’ve actually BEEN stranded in our shack of a house  in the snow with no power as a child and we put old bread sacks over our shoes and walked to my Granny Viv’s because she ALWAYS had food and we hauled it home on a sled and ate for days. So, I understand this urge. Perhaps it is in our DNA…us southerners…to hoard and pack up and batten down. There’s really no need for it now, but still we do it.
I stepped out of the first chicken house, hands full of dead baby chickens. The ground was already dusted white and it was coming down hard. I threw the dead chickens in a bucket and got inside the farm truck and called Clint.
“were we supposed to get snow?” I asked. “no, I don’t think so. Why?” he said. “cause it’s snowing like gangbusters here!” I said.
“Well, it’s not snowing here.” he told me. “Be careful in that snow! Don’t get stuck in it.”
He said the last part sternly, almost fatherly. This is, dear reader, a part of our relationship that just is what it is. He is a little older than me (6 years). He is old fashioned and polite. He is protective. I am….well….flighty at times. I chatter and talk. I giggle. So, it is what it is. Some people don’t understand it. I do. He do. We do. Now, y’all do.
I went back to walking chickens and  by the time I was done (this batch of chickens I SWEAR is gonna do me IN, they are AWFUL and they are PUNY and SICKLY and look like twitchy alien facsimiles of baby chicks  and were awful the day they BROUGHT them and I’m trying my BEST to make chicken soup out of chicken POOP but let me tell you, it’s a BOOGER and I’m tired and a little bit CRANKY about the whole mess)
 So, it was a while before I got back outside and the whole earth was white. Soft, fluffy, white. Crunchy, perfect snow. Snow stuck to my eyelashes. Melted on my face. I drove the farm truck down the chicken house pad that is lower and sloping and graveled. Then, I did it.
I stomped on the gas and roared over the snow. The back end of the one ton lost control almost immediately like trucks are want to do.  The back end of the truck came around my left. I was sideways, sliding, engine roaring. I grabbed the steering wheel and turned it gently left, feeling when to straighten it or turn it more left again. This is “steering into the skid” and I LOVE it and I would lose control, gain control, lose, gain, lose, gain. Out of control. In control.  I romped on the gas again, skidding and sliding, turning into it gently and catching myself. I did this for ten minutes, until I had tracked up a good portion of the chicken house pad.
The first time I skidded out of control, I was 16. Driving home in the rain from work, I lost control and almost slid into the ditch. I managed to get control back by steering into it. That is how I learned.
We taught this to our kids, made them drive and lose control in the pasture or on the chicken house pad. They loved it and became adept at it. Tara looked funny, so tiny…feet barely reaching the pedals as I said “ok, now STOMP it!!!! ok…now…..we’re sliding!!! Turn into it NOW!!!!” she would get control back and want to do it again. Trevor would do it on the four wheeler….in the trucks….anything.
I called Clint and told him about the countless sick chickens I picked up and how sorry they were and how mad I was about it all. Then I said “but I got to tear up the chicken house pad!” “I knew it!” he said. “you can’t resist. You’re like a little kid sometimes.” I giggled.
I went home and took a hot shower, pondering skidding and sliding. Dear reader…it’s a marvelous thing to skid, to slide…ever marvelouser to take yourself OUT of it. It’s ok to skid or slide if it’s your idea…it’s not if it’s out of your control
There are people who try to make me lose control…to watch me slide helplessly. I’ve learned to meet them head on and turn into them so they can see my eyes and my smile. I steer into the skid, gaining control back, getting my feet back under me, feeling gravel crunch and the wheels just CATCH and then POOF! I’m back in the driver’s seat, in control once more.
When I feel that slide, that skid, that sense of control being lost….I turn into it. I turn to God and just meet it HEAD ON.
I drove up to check chickens a few hours later. I noticed Trevor’s truck was at his house, meaning he was off work. I chugged up the driveway and when I got to the chicken house pad, I saw tracks.
Tire tracks. Big, looping circles and skids, gravel thrown across the snow.
“did I do all THAT??” I thought.
Then, I looked closer.
My truck has dual tires, hence leaving  2 pairs of tire tracks. The vehicle that left these tracks  only had one pair. I noted that the front end of the tracks was deeper, the tires digging in for purchase in the new snow. The sliding, out of control  back set barely scuffed the surface.
I called Clint and told him what I saw. “Trev’s been up here skidding around in the snow on the chicken house pad.” I said. “well…” Clint drawled. “wonder where he got THAT??” “I have no idea.” I said in my best southern drawl.
I drove around the tire tracks left in the snow by my son in his green truck, the truck we bought him when he was 16, that he bought back after he sold it…. the looping, scrawling, sprawling tracks. I thought about  us teaching him to drive and steering into the skids.
Dear reader…
steer into the skid.  Meet it head on. Grab that out of control moment and for ONCE take control.  Grab the wheel and gauge the road, feel the truck beneath you obey your command.
I’m happy to teach you how.
 Next snowfall.
 My farm truck.
Let the giggling commence.

1 comment:

  1. you did better than I would have. giggle... David would have warned me like Clint did you, but I would have got stuck anyway. :0)