Me licap se snaw forponde he dep pa burg stille.

(I like the snow because it makes the city quiet)

– An example of old English grammar

WEST RIVER, MARYLAND – What a beautiful day, yesterday. The snow came down, off and on, from dawn to dusk. Outside, it was quiet. Still. Beautiful.

We sat in front of the fire… We drank tea… We chatted, putting another log on the fire from time to time.

And we read the news. Here’s Business Insider:

A White House economist knocked back a GOP proposal for stimulus checks of $1,000 on Monday night, characterizing it as too little to satisfy President Joe Biden.

Jared Bernstein, a member of the White House Economic Advisors Council, said that Biden would want more than the offer from ten Republican senators. Biden is pushing for $1,400 checks.

The Republicans somehow know that $1,000 a head will do the trick. The Democrats are damned sure it will take $1,400.

Neither side has any idea.

The whole idea of stimmy checks – money handed out by the feds, who don’t really have any money, to people who don’t really need it – is baloney. But who’s going to say so?

Bad Start

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen…

Our son came back from Ireland. Two daughters came down from Baltimore, one with her three children. Inside, the snow holiday was warm and lively.

At about 11 a.m., a figure came up the hill, partly obscured by the snow. It was an Amazon delivery driver. But why was she afoot?

“Uh… My van is stuck at the bottom of the hill. Could you help me get it out?”

Our masculine pride took over. 

“Sure… I’ll bring the tractor and a chain. We should be able to get you out.”

A second later, we remembered that the tractor is almost useless on icy hills.

But maybe we could find a way to help.

The van was at the bottom of the hill. But it was not stuck. It was just unable to get up the slope to get out.

The young woman wore a blue knit cap over her purple hair and a blue plastic bag, affixed with a rubber band, over one of her Uggs. We guessed she was not the most experienced person behind the wheel.

“How long have you been doing this?” we asked.

“This is my third day,” came the reply. “This is not good.”

We offered to take over at the wheel. We would back up the other side as far as we could and then get up some speed to get out.

Amazon uses Dodge vans with front-wheel drive. That should give us the control and traction we needed.

We executed the maneuver almost flawlessly. But as the van approached the peak of the hill, its wheels spun. It lost speed and came to a halt about 50 feet short of the top.

“Oh darn… So close…” said the young woman.

“Don’t worry, I’ll try again.”

Well and Truly Stuck

Backing down a slick hill, however, is not the same as driving up. The front wheel traction helped keep the front wheels on the road. But the back wheels went where they would’st.

Suddenly, the van tilted over and came to a stop. It had slid off the narrow road, nearly at the very bottom of the hill.

“Uh oh…”

“Yeah, uh oh… Not good.”

Because now, the van was well and truly stuck, off the road… in a ditch.

Nor was there any plausible way to get it out. If we pulled it up, we risked turning it over on its side.

“I’m sorry I got your truck stuck,” we apologized. “Just tell your boss I did it.”

“I can’t do that… I shouldn’t have let you drive. It’s against company policy. Let’s just say that I backed up and slid off the road.”

“Oh… okay… Whatever.”

Soon after, an Amazon supervisor showed up. A young man drove down the hill to where we were standing.

He surveyed the situation. Then, getting in the van, he spun the tires.

“I don’t think that’s going to help,” we offered advice.

The young man was not much more “handy” than the young woman. The tires went deeper into the mud. The van tilted even further over to the side.

We offered to try to pull it with the tractor, but it looked hopeless. Putting the chain on the rear, we lifted it up… but the van seemed ready to tip over on its side.

“Whoa! We better stop. We don’t want to do any damage.”

Tow Truck

After about 20 minutes, another young man appeared on the scene… having come to visit our daughter. He parked at the top of the hill.

“Gosh, this doesn’t look good. Anything I can do to help?”

He was followed by an older man with long, gray hair and a wide and scraggly beard, wearing reflective overalls. He walked down the hill towards the small group and identified himself.

“Someone heeya called fo a tow truck?” he said in a distinctive tidewater accent.

“Yeah,” the Amazon supervisor replied, feeling perhaps a little unequal to the situation. “I thought we might need you.”

He was still in the van, spinning the wheels to show how stuck he was.

“I woun do that, if I was you,” said the graybeard.

“I doan think I can pull this out,” he continued. “I’ll jes get stuck down heeya, too. Besides, you’re in my way. You gotta get your cahr outta heeya fust.”

The Amazon supervisor, an agreeable fellow, got in his car. He put it in reverse and tried to back up the hill he had so recently come down. That clearly was not going to work.

“Turn aroun ova thaya,” said the tow-truck driver. “You kint go up thaya backasswards.”

The young man turned around, but he still didn’t seem to get the principle of momentum. Rather than getting a running start, he tried to inch up the hill.

“Hold on.” We offered to do some road clearing.

We scraped away some of the ice and slush in front of him – a run of about 50 yards – with the blade of the tractor.

Bourgeois Materialism

It was while we were thus engaged that another man appeared on the scene, wearing what looked like a blue uniform. He was a Federal Express delivery guy.

“I wasn’t sure I could get in and out… so I parked at the end of the road.”

“You did well,” we congratulated him.

“I got a package for Mrs. Bonner.”

Keeping our thoughts private, we blamed Mrs. Bonner for this whole comedy. Since we returned from Argentina, she no longer went out to stores; she did her shopping online. A delivery van came almost every day.

“We already have so much ‘stuff.’ Why do we need more?” we had asked her.

“Look, we needed another blanket. And I got a new lamp. And… what else? The shower curtain needed to be replaced.”

“Bourgeois materialism,” we muttered under our breath.

 “I’ll come up and get it,” we told the FedEx guy.

Bigger Rig

Once the road was cleared, the tow-truck driver repeated his suggestion.

“We gotta get this cahr outa heeya,” he said, referring to the Amazon supervisor’s car.

We would have pulled it with the tractor and a chain, but we could find nowhere to hook the chain. The entire front assembly seemed made of plastic.

So, the whole troupe – young woman, supervisor, tow-truck driver, friend of the family, FedEx driver, and yours truly – got behind the car. Pushing, slipping, falling down – we gradually got it to the top of the hill.

“This ain’t the way to do things,” said the bearded man, breathing heavily from the exertion.

“Well, we got it out of the way,” we replied. “Now you can get your tow truck down there.”

Then, turning back to the van…

“My truck woan pull that out… I called a buddy… with a bigger rig. We’re gonna liff it up.”

On Their Way

A few minutes later, the big tow truck came. It backed down the hill, attached a boom, coupled it to both sides of the van, hoisted it up, and moved it back onto the hard surface.

From there, the tow truck was able to disengage and drive back up out of our little valley. The young woman, back at the wheel of her truck, prepared to follow him out.

“I’m sorry to cause so much trouble.”

“Don’t worry about it, you’ve been very helpful.”

She waved goodbye and drove up the hill.

Back at the house, we asked Elizabeth: “What did these guys deliver?”

“I ordered a pair of jeans for you, Dear.”




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