It seemed fall merely blinked and winter was here.
The icy roads and frosted windshields and looking for something other than a credit card to scrape those frosted windshields clear seems to belong to another time, another season.
But, apparently, it doesn’t.
I set out for work as usual on Tuesday morning, happily wearing a new red coat that doesn’t belong to me, but which I love. I was only minimally concerned that it was snowing because, after all, the weather has been just weird and I am an Albertan, living where else but in Alberta, and we deal with the weather. We endure the weather.
My first clue that it may have been a little treacherous on the road was when the truck in front of me did this crazy fishtail dance. “Oh dear,” I thought to myself. “That is not good.”
I hadn’t even left town yet so I figured the highway would probably be better.
I went so slow it seemed my summer tires were hardly going around. Still, I could feel my car sway and I kind of felt like I was on a boat on the lake that was drifting aimlessly and I had no control whatsoever. Unfortunately, I was not in such a boat, but, instead, sitting behind a steering wheel.
And for the second time that morning I thought, “this is not good.”
I thought longingly about winter tires. I’m sure they would have helped with the swaying motion.
But then I thought who gets their winter tires on in October? Obviously, people a lot smarter than me, I decide, wryly.
About that time I forgot all about being a hardy Albertan, and became instead just a very scared woman driving down a very icy highway.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, a nice man, whom the police later referred to as a concerned citizen stood in the middle of the road waving a red flag.
I skidded to a stop beside him.
“Where are you going?” he said.
“Rimbey,” I replied, my voice only slightly quavering.
“Don’t go,” he said. “This road is a sheet of ice.”
“Okay,” I murmured meekly, thinking of home and coffee and my nice safe kitchen.
And then suddenly, as I sat quietly, steeling myself to go back on the road, aka skating rink, a bunch of yellow coated firemen showed up, blocking off the road with precise efficiency.
I was aware that fire prevention week was coming up, but I was aware in a detached sort of way. You know, get the pictures, get the names, write about smoke detectors and having a fire escape plan. Go home.
But suddenly those guys became so much more to me than pictures and written words.
In fact, I felt a rush of emotion that was probably akin to love. Definitely gratitude.
Thank you, guys, I murmured soundlessly to the windshield.
Thank you for risking the elements to close off that highway so motorists such as myself could go home to their nice warm kitchens and their coffee.
This morning when I drove to work, I felt like I had time traveled back to the right season and fall had just been hiding under a blanket of snow.
The trees bore no hint of winter, the sun cascaded some feeble warmth all over the land and the greatest blessing of all was the road.
It was clear and dry and completely devoid of ice.
Treena Mielke is the editor of The Rimbey Review and writes a regular column for the paper.