Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

We are ringing 2016 in with beautiful weather - a positive winter wonderland!  This week has been sunny and cold, with diamonds glistening off the snow and our boots crunching with each footfall.  We have been playing in the snow until our noses get red and our fingers grow stiff, coming in only long enough to toast up by the cookstove and then we are off again, enjoying our unusual (calm) winter weather.  The near-constant winds have stilled long enough for us to truly delight in our snowy-white fairyland and has allowed the trees to keep their winter cloaks.

Last weeks weather was another story altogether!  Our plans were to leave on Christmas Eve to spend Christmas with my parents.  Our bags were packed, our truck was loaded and then the blizzard began.  By 4 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, our driveway had drifts four feet deep and only our Landcruiser was able to traverse its depths.  Maid Elizabeth parked her car at lunchtime and knowing that we were in for some weather, I delivered both she and Master Hand Grenade to work, planning to pick them up at the end of the day.

A small drift, just forming

Master Calvin making a trail through the snow
Unfortunately, the weather grew worse and as the sky darkened, a dear, sweet elderly friend drove up our almost impassible driveway.  After delivering Christmas cheer, he attempted to drive back down our drifted driveway, became confused and drove right off our driveway into a huge, snow-filled ditch.  Sir Knight's attempts to pull him out were of no use - he was buried in the snow so deeply that we knew we would need big equipment to get him out.

We called a neighbor for assistance and he and his son-in-law drove over to assess the situation.  After almost suffering the same fate as our elderly friend, our neighbor drove back to his house and started up his 100 horsepower tractor.  Within minutes they were back, first with a snowplow-equipped Jeep, followed by the tractor.  Half-way up the driveway, the Jeep was buried in a drift, unable to move.  The tractor made its way around the Jeep, plowing snow as it went, until it almost reached the truck, when it too, became buried in the snow-filled ditch.  We now had a pickup, a Jeep with a snowplow and a 100 hp tractor stuck in our driveway.  Night had descended upon us, the blizzard was wild, it was the day before Christmas Eve and we were landlocked at Little Shouse on the Prairie, with no way to make it to the road. 

Our children had finished work and begged  rides home with friends and tromped up the nearly impassible driveway on foot.  It took a good bit of time, with a blizzard raging and snow drifts piling high, but they made it in time to grab shovels and help in the attempted driveway evacuation. 

After burying his tractor, our neighbor went back home for the big gun - a dozer.  He drove up the driveway, plowing a huge berm of snow as he went, made it about 300 feet, and his dozer died.  Apparently the cold weather didn't agree with the battery, so Sir Knight unhooked our generator battery (which is always freshly charged), wired it into the dozer, gave it a crank and the dozer, once again, roared to life.  Within 30 minutes, the dozer had pulled the Jeep from the snowbank, drug the tractor from the ditch and finally managed to extricate our elderly friend's truck.  After 3 1/2 hours, our driveway was cleared of vehicles, however, it was left utterly impassible to anything without tracks.

Can you see the driveway?

The cavalry's here!

The dozer clearing and the grader widening
Christmas Eve morning, our working children met friends at the foot of the driveway and hitched rides to work.  Sir Knight was stuck at home, not able to get his service truck out of its parking spot.  Our neighbor with the dozer planned on plowing our driveway that afternoon (just in time for us to leave for my parents) and another neighbor offered to clean and widen the driveway with his grader (we have the BEST neighbors!).  And then, the unthinkable happened.  Another well-meaning neighbor attempted to plow our driveway (with his small pickup) and promptly got himself utterly and completely STUCK!  With the clock ticking, our little children in tears and our driveway impassible, we knew our Christmas trip was over before it even began.  But then, a big yellow grader began a slow ascent up our driveway, heading for the pickup, ready to pull him out.  And. Then. The. Grader. Got. Stuck.  REALLY!  After a quick walk back to his house, and our neighbor drove his self-loading log truck to the end of our driveway.  He extended the loading arm, grabbed his grader, gave it a yank and pulled it out of the snow.  After the grader was free, our neighbor chained it up and pulled the pickup out of the snow.  Finally, all of the vehicles were (again) out of the our driveway.  About that time our neighbor with the dozer showed up and began plowing us out.  The dozer plowed, the grader widened and cleared and by 3 o'clock on Christmas Eve, our family was packed in the Landcruiser on our way to the Grandparents!  It truly was a Christmas miracle!

A driveway!!

Off to Grandpa and Grandma's!
Over the course of those two days we had more big equipment on our driveway than the road crews did on the highways!  As stressful and frustrating as our driveway ordeal was, it was also a beautiful reminder of unwarranted grace.  Our neighbors didn't "owe" us anything, yet they came to our aid out of the kindness of their hearts.  We have no possible way of ever repaying them, but they didn't expect payment. They were neighbors in the purest sense of the word, and they left us praising God for them. 

And now we begin a new year with hearts overflowing.  A very happy new year to you all!