Skating through winter amid Mother Nature’s slippery ways

January 08, 2014 09:44 am

En route to cover one of my favorite topics, 4-H, I opened the door of my car and no sooner had I put my foot on the ground than it slid out from under me. It took me a few seconds to figure out how to get up. The parking lot had been transformed into an ice rink, and me without my skates.

I interviewed storyteller Kathy Hunter last week who writes and records her own fables which explain that storms worsen when Mother Nature gets angry. I asked, “What kind of mood is she in when she throws out a chinook after we finally get some snow?” After last night, I’d like to know what makes her so angry that she decides freezing rain is a good weather option.

Driving from Lakeview to Olympia, Wash., for almost a decade during Christmas break, our family encountered a lot of winter driving. Once we were rendered snow bound in Bend and twice we held over in Portland because of ice storms. Crossing the street from the hotel to a restaurant and I struggled to make it to the center. Traction seemed better walking on the ice-covered grass, until I fell and the individually ice-coated blades of grass cut into my palms like knives.

After my parents moved to Portland, I flew in to visit during an ice storm. The following day, while driving my mother to work, I was appalled at the car’s lack of ability to move from a stopped position. It was Christmas Eve. 

She said, “Go to Les Schwab.” For four hours I hung out in the lobby drinking coffee and shooting the bull before the technicians could put on the studded tires and I could get on with my day. Say what you want about studded tires’ affect on our roads, getting where I’m going safely is my primary concern.

A couple years ago, Dad wanted to join me at Fergi Fest. I took his cane from him and gave him a ski pole — the footing at Ferguson Ridge isn’t good on the best day, but on a spring, slush and mud day? Forget about it. Of course, he fell anyway. As I was wringing my hands about it, one friend said, “Stop being everyone’s mother.”

For the past 5.5 years, Mom and Dad have traveled to Wallowa County countless times, but not during bad weather. My mother’s adversity to cold being one reason and of course bad roads being another. We can always wait to visit until those windows of opportunity when the roads are clear. But danger is always lurking.

On Christmas Eve, I was on my way home from shooting pictures of Skating with Santa in the Enterprise Park when my mother called asking me for an ace bandage. She fell and hurt her wrist. I said I’ll call the EMT neighbor and have him look at it. He advised no, a bandage isn’t a good option with the swelling and he said, “If you don’t go to the hospital, I won’t have any sympathy.” 

So on Christmas Day we spent two hours in the emergency room, calling an x-ray technician and a doctor away from their homes to determine the extent of her injuries — a hairline fracture — no surgery needed, just a splint and some Advil.

My mother is right-handed and so of course she landed on her right hand. Her penmanship is artistry — I giggled when I saw her trying to teach herself to write with her left hand. She insisted on one-handedly washing dishes and managed to dress herself and get on fairly well minus the use of her right hand and arm.

What is a holiday without a tale of woe or two? I am grateful she got out of the ordeal with a relatively minor injury — in retelling of her fall, one friend said her mother broke both wrists before a wedding and another said she spent time in the hospital this Christmas with her mother-in-law.

Yesterday, I was mocked for sliding into the courthouse on icy sidewalks, hunched up and carefully watching my feet. When I exited the building, the first step onto the sidewalk slid out from under me and I landed … on my left hand. I am decidedly left-handed. Nothing broken, I skated one foot in front of the other to the car and slowly drove home. 

I hope whatever bad hair day Mother Nature is having she gets over soon — I would like to be heading to Fergi again soon and not the emergency room.