Every Manitoban has memories about a blizzard.
For some, a blizzard brings thoughts of snuggling near a crackling fire. For others, memories of being stranded in blinding snow awakens fear. Still others remember long ago days of blizzards halting the food supply.
A recent blizzard warning brought back memories of one terrifying day when I thought I would lose my dad to the storm. I remember watching the white-out snow erase our driveway. The howling winds had this haunting, swirling scream that sounded like fear itself. I watched and listened and prayed, knowing my dad and my cousin Jacob were caught in it, trying to make it back home.
We all waited silently, praying they would be alright. The strained silence was suddenly pierced by a knock at the door. It was Dad. The car had become stuck hard. They had tried hard in the cold, blinding snow to push it out, but it would not budge. They were not far though – just about a block away. It was decided we would take the second car to go pull out the stuck car.
So we started up the car and inched it there. A person could have walked faster than we drove. At that snail’s pace, we would catch the occasional glimpse of pavement to confirm we were indeed still on the road. I squinted hard, and prayed the whole way that an oncoming vehicle would not appear suddenly in front of us. At that slow pace though, the car soon became lodged in a snowbank right there in what may or may not have been the middle of the road.
I can’t tell you how terrifying it was to be stranded in a tin can essentially, surrounded by such white that it seemed like the vehicle had been wrapped in paper. In that blinding cold, we had to choose between two very unpleasant options. We could stay, even overnight possibly, and risk freezing or being hit by traffic. We could also leave, facing frostbite, being hit by traffic or becoming lost. There was no good option. We were truly stuck.
Praying like never before, we set out to walk. It wasn’t that far, we reasoned.
No matter how deeply we scrunched behind our scarves, or shoved our mittens in our pocket, the cold bit at us and pelted us, screaming the whole time.
With frozen hands and toes, we did make it home somehow. I have the frostbite to prove it. Finally arrived, there was still the matter of pushing out both vehicles. That was going to have to wait till the storm past.
After we got home, Dad and Jacob told the story of their drive from Winnipeg to Kleefeld that night. . Slow. Terrifying. Blinding white. Full of desperate prayer. Though on that drive, one man was hanging out of the open door while the other drove, so that they could be sure they were indeed on the road.
Thankfully, every person and vehicle was recovered that day. Still, every time a blizzard warning is issued, an unnatural chill finds me…
Hopefully your memories are more pleasant ones.
What do you think of when you think of blizzards?