Monday, December 15, 2008

Things Seen During Friday Night’s Drive in The Season’s First Snowstorm

Eberle & I had plans Friday evening that involved driving into a bit more of a snowstorm than was strictly enjoyable. Here are some observations on the trip (we never reached our destination, but did arrive home in one piece), as well as a few memories of similar drives in the past that this trek inspired.

  • A dusting of snow across our gravel driveway
  • Snow pellets falling hard at about a 45-degree angle
  • A llama & an alpaca eating hay near our green woodshed
  • The pavement on Highway 95 already white with a couple of inches of snow
  • A silver compact car with Idaho County license plates passing us at a seemingly unsafe speed on the top of Mesa Hill
  • Fine snow already turning to pale gray ice on the bridge across the Weiser River
  • Dark gravel pits in the Idaho Department of Transportation lot frosted white
  • A light-up plastic Santa attached to a fence post
  • A light-up Santa & reindeer in front of a periwinkle blue house, all contained behind a cyclone fence
  • The high school football field: like a dark wall after one coat of primer
  • Snow clumped on bright yellow letters announcing Ronnie’s Supermarket
  • A frozen puddle in the feed store parking lot
  • Brick red candy cane lights leading up the wooden ramp to a trailer home’s front door
  • Snow-glazed sheep & one snow-glazed llama with a red harness
  • Black cattle grazing in white pastures
  • Two Adams County Sheriffs' cars with flashers running & a silver compact car with Idaho County license plate in a field on Fort Hall hill—everyone seemed intact, by the way
  • An outdoor Christmas tree beaming red & golden thru undecorated pines outside a house atop Fort Hall hill
  • A yellow snowplow, with yellow lights flashing, rattling across the parking lot of the restaurant at Pineridge
  • An old gray stone railroad bridge
  • A kaleidoscopic swirl of snowflakes in the headlights
  • The roadway about a foot in front of the car & not much more
  • Tire tracks ahead of us indicating where another driver believed the road to be
  • Oncoming headlights indicating where southbound traffic believed their lane to be
  • Dark lodgepole pines, their boughs coated with snow, reminding Eberle & me of driving thru another winter storm, when we came across a lodgepole fallen across Highway 95, blocking both lanes; a pick-up pulled up almost immediately; two men with chain saws emerged; we were all on our way again shortly, driving thru snow & sawdust
  • Smoke from the cogen furnace at Tamarack Mill billowing white into the downpour of snowflakes
  • The dark water of the Little Salmon River
  • Smoke curling up from the stovepipe of a yurt
  • Nothing but snowy road, & a blinding swirl of fine snow in the headlights
  • The flashing lights of an Idaho State Police car heading south—I had a clear memory of another snowstorm several years ago when we were leaving McCall in the late evening, only to learn when we reached New Meadows (still 40 miles from home) that a semi had jack-knifed on Fort Hall Hill & Highway 95 was closed, probably for the night; & Eberle & I ended up watching Idaho Public TV in knotty pine-paneled motel cabin in McCall
  • The road covered in about 4 inches of snow, & tire marks cutting an eccentric skidding path
  • A forklift parked amongst the lumber piles at Tamarack
  • Snow continuing to swirl while we sang “Winter Wonderland,” “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” & “Silver & Gold”; & we recalled a Boxing Day night several years back (that’s December 26th in case you don’t know) when Eberle & I & our Bay Area pals Dani & Tami were driving back from what had been a very pleasant evening in Lake Fork, some 60 miles from home, & leaving to discover a driving snowstorm underway, with high winds heaping drifts across the roads & highways, & at the half way point we were all belting out Christmas carols, soon followed by “Rock of Ages,” despite the fact that the riders in the car consisted of one Jewish person (Tami), two confirmed heathens (Dani & I), & my better half Eberle, whose conversion to Catholicism was still a few years away.
  • A slow-moving string of yellow headlights about a quarter mile behind us in the rearview mirror
  • A string of yellow headlights creeping past us headed north
  • The yellow aura of houselights appearing eerily thru the snowlight in places we didn’t think there were any houses
  • The lights of Council, ID at a distance
  • Signs wreathed in holiday lights advertising the local bed & breakfast
  • More holiday lights shining candy apple red in the otherwise dark dentist’s office
  • A large man in a yellow jacket striding out of the Ace Saloon & across the snowy main street, oblivious to traffic coming in both directions
  • Signs stating both “Go Lumberjacks” & “For Sale” outside the local burger joint
  • The flashing letters of the Council High School message sign advertising Saturday’s Craft Fair
  • A dark SUV attached to a tow truck in the parking lot of the Shell Station
  • An elaborate assemblage of red, green & gold lights decorating a cyclone fence beside the Council High football field
  • A tire track that swerved off at a 45-degree angle across the road at the top of Mesa Hill
  • North Gray’s Creek Road covered in snow, with no tire tracks
  • Plastic poinsettias planted in tiki torch bamboo stakes topped with snow—our driveway
  • Likewise, the sawhorses at the far end of our driveway topped with snow, especially noticeable above the black metal brackets attaching the 2 x 4 legs to the 2 x 4 crosspiece
You know, you never have your digital camera with you when you’re driving into the teeth of a snowstorm—so the pic is an image by Paul Jerry from Wikipedia Commons. It’s licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0 (see link for details).


  1. I would have turned back at "pellets." But then I've spent the last 40 years of my life in Texas and Western Washington, where an inch of snow brings all human activity to a panicked halt.

  2. Had we been wise, we wouldn't have gotten even so far. & yes, I lived one place, too,"where an inch of snow brings all human activity to a panicked halt"-- Charlottesville, VA, so I know that feeling; actually not a fan of winter. By the way, thanks for mentioning "Wild Grapes"-- I wasn't familiar with that poem, which is quite odd really. Interesting from a purely metrical standpoint, & the banjo image is quite vivid...but I'd have to think about the poem overall & the ending in particular.


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