This time the snowplows aren't so friendly. Rewritten upon request.
|Snowplows in the Wild – Redux
Note: The snowplows story came about from a conversation with my daughter (age 10). After I wrote the first version of this story, she reminded me that the feral snowplows were not supposed to be nice. With that in mind…
This story is dedicated to Camilla Baum, my somewhat feral daughter.
I live in a small town way up in the mountains. We have one main street, fifteen side streets and three parking lots. When you live in a very small town, far from other towns let alone a large city, you have plenty of time to count the streets.
Most of the time, life in our town is pleasant. We have little to worry about … until it snows. When it snows, we have to be very careful to avoid the feral snowplow. If there is more than twenty-five millimeters (one inch) of snow, the feral snowplow zooms into our town. It’s red with a yellow plow and a large crack in the middle of its windshield. Other than the crack, it looks like any other snowplow with the large exception, of course, that it has no driver.
No one knows where the snowplow lives when it’s nice outside, but we expect it’s in the large pine forest just down the mountainside. The forest separates us from the other town on the mountain. Since the other town is larger and is on the bottom of the mountainside, we travel down there many times each year, always going through the forest, but we never see any snowplow tracks, so we cannot be sure it lives in the forest.
The snowplow has yet to run over any children, though it has come close. Often it pushes the snow back into the street, usually focusing on intersections and the main road, making it harder for us to get around. And making us clear snow from the streets twice.
Sometimes it pushes large piles of snow in front of people’s doors. And once it piled so much snow in front of the elementary school that we had to spend two days shoveling it away, outside in the cold instead of being inside in the warmth learning to read and write.
When it snows, I have to shovel the driveway of our small apartment house, as well as the sidewalk and street in front of our home. And I have to be very careful to keep my eyes open for the feral snowplow.
Once morning, I woke up to see there was about ten centimeters of snow (4 inches) on the ground. The snow was light and fluffy, so it was easy to shovel and good for sledding, but not good for snowballs or forts. Since this was a school day, the snow was good for nothing but extra work before sitting in a classroom.
So I put on my red and blue hat, my green jacket and my yellow snow pants, picked up my shovel and went outside to shovel the snow. I was halfway done with the street when it started snowing again. They were big fluffy flakes that completely covered one of my eyes when they hit my face. I lifted my head to the sky and stuck out my tongue. I was trying to catch a large flake on my tongue when, all of a sudden, I realized the feral snowplow was right behind me! It was so quiet!
Its engine was running and small shimmer of heat was rising from its hood, but mostly I stared at its snowplow, which was as high as I was tall. If the snowplow moved forward, it would surely crush me!
Suddenly it started moving forward and I was too terrified to move. I was being pushed backwards and then, as the snowplow tilted its plow upwards, I felt myself being lifted off the ground!
Soon I was lying in the plow and we were chugging quickly down the street. I was being kidnapped be the feral snowplow! I yelled and yelled, but the people on the street did not see that there was anyone in the plow. They simply ran from the street, glad to get out of the way.
After a while I realized we were on bumpier ground and had left the town. We were driving down the mountainside. For some reason, I stopped being scared. Lying in the snowplow was surprisingly comfortable and I am sure I fell asleep, since it felt like we were driving through clouds for some of the trip.
I sat up in the plow, so I could see forward. We were heading towards the pine forest. We were following other snowplow tracks and, as we got closer, more and more tracks had entered this path, though no other snowplows were in sight. I wondered how many wild snowplows there were in the forest. And, for the first time since the very beginning of the trip, I was scared. I could walk home from here, and I was dressed for the cold, but if there were many snowplows trying to run me over, I doubt I’d get back alive.
We turned a corner and I saw a clearing with five snowplows. I could see that the snow above them was a little shimmery from water vapor. Also, all their engines were running. But, of course, none of them had drivers.
The five snowplows were in a circle, all facing forward. There was an empty place in the circle, but we did not go there. Instead, we turned away, drove about a hundred meters (300 feet) and parked there. The snowplow I was riding in was facing away from the circle, so I could no longer see the others.
After about an hour, I was getting very cold, so I climbed out of the plow, cautiously, for fear the snowplow would object. But it did not move.
Unsure what to do next, I did the only thing that came to my mind. I climbed into the passenger side of the snowplow. My intent was to get warm, but inside the cab was far, far, far colder than outside. Icy cold air was pouring into the cab from the crack in the windshield, seemingly far colder air than was actually outside. So, again, without thinking, I pulled off my red and blue striped cap and shoved it into the crack in the windshield. My jacket had a hood, so I pulled that over my ears.
Soon the cab became toasty warm. So warm, in fact, that I fell asleep again.
When I woke up, the snowplow was sitting in front of my house. Most of the people in town were standing in a circle around the snowplow. I waved, showing them I was fine, unbuckled the seat belt (I did not recall ever buckling it … how did that happen?), opened the cab door and hopped down to the street. I walked to sidewalk and into the welcoming arms of my mother, who was crying and asking if I was okay.
“I’m fine,” I said.
No one moved as the snowplow slowly backed up, turned in the middle of the street (a perfect three point turn) and slowly drove out of town … taking my red and blue cap with it.
The next time it snowed, the red snowplow with the yellow plow (and red and blue cap stuck in its windshield) was parked in front of my house. It had plowed the street up to my house, but stopped there.
I pulled on my green jacket and yellow snow pants and went downstairs. I knew I did not need shovel. I realized the snowplow’s plow and my pants matched. For some reason, I thought this would help us become friends.
When I walked out of the front door, the snowplow blinked its lights twice.
I got into the passenger side, buckled the seatbelt myself this time, and sat there all comfy warm while the snowplow cleared three streets and did an especially good job on the elementary school parking lot and sidewalks.
It even pushed a large pile of snow into the middle of the playground. This time, it was good packing snow, so the large pile would be great for forts and tunnels during recess.
After plowing the school, the snowplow returned to my home and let me off.
The next time it snowed, again, the red snowplow with the yellow plow and red and blue cap was waiting for me, blinking its lights twice when I got outside.
Soon enough, the people in the town stopped worrying about being run over by a feral snowplow. The mornings or afternoons it snowed become small celebrations in the streets with children playing and adults bringing out large, steaming carafes of hot chocolate. It was especially nice, since the snowplow cleared away most of the longer and wider streets and did such a good job on the school.
This was the pattern for two more years, until…
One day the snowplow didn’t arrive.
After waiting long enough to realize it was not coming, I got my shovel and did my job of clearing the driveway, sidewalk and street in front of my home.
The next time it snowed, again, the snowplow did not arrive.
After a few more snowstorms, our town settled back to clearing our own streets. It was especially sad for the children because instead of playing in the streets and drinking hot chocolate, they, too, had to pick up shovels and get to work.
One snowy day, after I cleared away the snow from a light snowfall, I decided to walk down the mountainside to see what had become of the red snowplow with the yellow plow and red and blue cap in its windshield.
The trip was shorter than I remembered.
I quickly found the path and the snowplow tracks. By the time I got into the woods, I had counted six tracks entering the path.
I walked around the corner and looked into the clearing. There, in the middle, was a circle of wild snowplows. But instead of five in a circle with an empty spot, and my snowplow all by itself on the edge, all six snowplows were together.
Their engines were running quietly and the water vapor was rising up slightly melting the snowflakes as the fell downwards.
I started walking towards them with the intent of getting into the red snow plow with the yellow plow and red and blue cap in its windshield. Halfway there, however, I thought better of this plan. I stopped, turned around, and as quietly as I could, walked out of the clearing.
Never again did I enter those woods and never again did I see the red snow plow with the yellow plow and red and blue cap in its windshield, or, in fact, any of the other snowplows. The snowplows in the wild.