Hands clenched to the wheel, I drove home from church, worrying as
the clear portion of the windshield grew smaller and smaller. I
estimated the visibility, the distance between me and the car I thought
I saw ahead, before realizing I saw only a darkening swirl of icy snow.
Behind me, the closest car kept a reassuring distance, and I breathed
Suddenly, I could see many cars ahead of me, on both
sides of the road, and I slowed, thanking my lucky stars for anti-lock
brakes that seemed to be working. I tried to assess the situation. None
of these cars seemed to have collided; two rested on the shoulder, two
others in the valley of the median. People stood around, one man
attempting to cross the highway.
I continued at a crawl, afraid
to stop and be hit from behind as the car recently in the distance grew
closer, also afraid of hitting the cars proceeding deliberately ahead
of me. I navigated around the stopped cars and thought about calling
911 until I saw a police cruiser on the other side of the highway,
speeding north with lights flashing.
Part of a solid line of
cars, I passed a small vehicle without a front bumper, on the left
shoulder. I wondered who hit her? I wonder why I assume the driver was
a woman; did I see her? It all happened so fast, as the cars moved
My windshield grew icier, and I took the next
exit, lowering my window to get a better sense of where I was, wishing
my wiper blades worked as well as my brakes.
I stopped five
times on the way home–at a gas station, on the wide entrance to the
highway in a town midway, at the stoplight at the end of the exit ramp
after the accidents, in the parking lot of the Starbucks in Posh
Neighboring Town (yes, I really needed to stop then, too), and at a gas
station not a mile away, the gas station with the ice cream stand where
we once stopped with the Scribbler-Blue family on a beautiful summer
It all looks different through a screen of ice. Many
times I wondered if I could possibly be judging the road correctly. As
I crossed the Route One bridge into City By the Sea, I considered where
to stop for a sixth attempt at ice-removal, but the weather seemed
different. The snow no longer contained ice. The defroster seemed to be
melting things. I circled Back Cove, listening to the familiar and
soothing voice of Garrison Keillor, singing a song about a pilot who
did not let difficulties prevent him from a safe landing.
I relaxed, just a little.
Over an hour after leaving church, I arrived home, safely.