Sometimes I expect it sounds like an embellishment when I say that we have had to bring the packages down off our hill on sleds in order to meet the UPS truck or that we couldn’t get to the mail because of snow or ice or mud.
I can hear you all saying to yourselves, “How steep can this hill really be? Can there really be a place left in the continental US that doesn’t have Dominos delivery, a Starbucks on the corner, or cell phone reception? Could the weather really be that weird?”
Well, with climate change affecting the whole earth, everyone is having weird weather. So maybe you are no longer wondering when I say, “It was April yesterday and June the day before but today it is January.”
But when I mention mud, I am not sure it comes with a clear enough visual. Like last week’s mud, on a day when it was March here.
There is a reason why everyone living on this hill knows what you mean when you say, “Choose your rut wisely.” Once you get in a rut on the downhill run, you and your car go wherever that rut goes and often that’s not good. And if you find yourself on the bottom of the hill when it looks like this, the wisest course is to choose no rut at all but abandon your vehicle and walk. I can’t count the number of times dawn has broken to reveal an abandoned vehicle up to its axles in mud, smack dab in the middle of the road.
Yesterday, a snowy January day that behaved like a January day of old, brought an event that laid to rest even the whiff of a suggestion that we ever exaggerate about this wild and wooly hill where Green Hope Farm finds itself.
Yesterday, the town plow tipped over, literally TIPPED OVER while sanding our hill.
School was called off because of expected snow, but there was only a few inches on the roads. It didn’t seem like an especially bad weather day.
Yet somehow it was the perfect storm of packed snow and an undercoat of glare ice.
In the middle of the afternoon, several cars went off the road. The town plow sat at the top of the hill, right here at the farm, looking down to see if those cars were going to move. After a fifteen minutes wait, the plow driver started cautiously down the hill.
Almost immediately, Deb called out that she had just seen the plow tip over. There was a moment of disbelief for all of us.
A thirty foot multi ton truck had tipped over? Patricia raced out to look down the hill and called back into the office that we should call 911. The plow was indeed on its side. Blessedly, the driver was already climbing out of the sideways cab and all of us were most grateful he was safe.
This was the view from the top of our drive. The driver said he had started down the hill and immediately realized, even with chains, his truck was in a full tilt slide. Worried about running into the cars in the ditch farther down the hill, he turned the truck to the left, hoping his plow would catch on a big dead tree and stop his progress. Instead, the plow caught and the then the truck went right over on its side. One of the firemen who has lived in town more than forty years said he could only remember this happening one other time.
School teacher Jim was enjoying a snow day too. He began at once to help the driver to haul sand out of the back of the plow truck to stop the oil spill from the truck.
When the road agent arrived, he came up the hill in a small plow which immediately did a 180 and then slid backwards all the way to the bottom of the hill.
He returned on foot with one of the town policemen and the fire chief. All of them sailed through the air onto the ground a few times as they climbed the hill.
At the bottom of the hill vehicles were everywhere, spinning out and sliding into ditches. People helped to push these rescue vehicles out of the way so that the other town plow could try and sand the road.
Backing up while spreading sand, the other town plow could get no further than about half way up the hill before this truck also began to slide and spin.
The rescue people were calm and focused, but I did hear the fire chief call out, “Give her hell!” into his walkie talkie as he exhorted the second plow driver to try once more to get the sand a little bit farther up the hill to the scene of the tip.
It was clear that it was going to be hours before the plow got moved. None of the staff could get their own cars around the sprawled plow truck to go home. So Deb, Patricia, Masaki, and Jane walked off the hill to Jane’s house about a mile away, where Jane gave them tea before taking them home in her daughter’s Jeep.
May it never be said that the Green Hope Crew wouldn’t walk a mile to take care of you!
Note, behind Jim and neighbor Susan, some of the cars spun out at the bottom of the hill and to the right of Jim and Susan, one of the first cars that went off into a ditch at the beginning of the big slide.
Somehow, in language completely foreign to my ears, in sentences larded with catchy phrases like, “we got a six twenty with a four forty eight for a one seventy”, the town brain trust decided to use a front loader to right the plow.
While one of the firemen moved empty barrels up the hill to collect the oily sand, the loader dragged off its first detachable piece of the truck, the plow hitch.
Kids and dogs collected to watch. May May tried to get into the middle of the action twice, but was not as well behaved as the sheltie next door, Bailey, May May had to go inside to watch from afar. She remains miffed.
Former staff goddess Yessinia’s husband Eric is part of the volunteer fire department. He is in charge of the high school students from Kimball Union that are part of the fire squad. They are the only one actually in town during the work day and serve a vital role responding to fire calls during these daytime hours.
Eric modeled his outfit for me, remarking that he looked a bit too crisp and that I needed to take the shot after he had been there for a couple of hours digging up oily sand.
With the plow and the sander unit both detached from the truck, the front loader dragged the denuded truck down the road to a place where the loader could get at it from the side in this drive way.
It was growing dark by the time they got her back on four wheels. The use of the loader pulling the truck this way and that with chains showed an impressive knowledge of physics.
As the truck lifted off the ground, I was surprised by how long she hung at a forty five degree angle before finally setting down. Everyone watched and waited while she hung in the balance. She’d become a real personality to all of us by then. I am only sad that after she was righted, her frame looked twisted beyond repair.
In the pitch dark, the Kimball Union kids kept on cleaning up the oil spill. Eric was looking a bit less dapper, but we’ll give him the glamor shot with this blog. He deserves it!
Jim, Will and I retired home to be greeted by understandably sulky May May. I remain impressed that while it ALWAYS takes a village, when it comes to righting a plow truck on the steepest, slipperiest road in town, we have a great village.