The snow was blowing big flakes sideways across the prairie and the weatherman warned of minus 30 wind chills and it was just another February morning in western North Dakota.
I loaded up the kids and the car: coats, hats, mittens, blankies, sippy cups, snow pants, snacks for the trip to town, more snacks for the trip back home, lunch bag, computer bag, checked my pocket for my phone and we were on our way… Backed out of the garage, up the driveway, around the little corner and, with a sip of coffee, noticed that with the fresh snow, it was nearly impossible to distinguish where, exactly, our little road was.
Leaned forward, squinted my eyes, misjudged the curve entirely and sunk that car full of snacks and snowpants up to the floorboards in the ditch. Before I even reached our mailbox.
So I want to talk about country living for a minute. Are there glamorous parts about it? Sure. When the sun is setting on a 70 degree summer day and you’re on the back porch listening to the crickets singing and watching the lightning bugs flicker in creek beds. These are the things Martha Stewart, Country Living magazine and that adorable home-renovating Gaines couple sell you about the whole rural experience.
That and the solitude, fresh air and the fact that they’ve never walked outside to find their pet goats standing on the roof of their car, but I digress.
But I’m guessing neither Martha, Joanna or the editors at Country Living have ever lived where that fresh air hurts your face, winter lasts 37 months and every outfit must coordinate with snow boots and a beanie. No. They live in a world where the dirt, mud, melty snow and apple juice magically stays off of their photo-ready vintage farmhouses decorated with fragile antiques and (*gasp) white rugs.
In these magazines and home renovation shows I’ve learned plenty on how to make a cozy breakfast nook (I’ll never have a breakfast nook) and what flowers to put in my foyer (I will never have a foyer). Curiously, I’ve never come across any tips on what to do when you drive your car in the ditch in your own yard 30 miles from civilization. Sigh.
Luckily I’ve found myself in this predicament enough times that I’ve developed my own list. The first step being, of course, slamming my hands on the steering wheel in exasperation.
The second is new to me, but involves answering all 50 million of my 3-year-old’s questions about why we’re not moving, which is my favorite step.
The third? Pray that my dad’s home so I don’t have to suffer the humiliation of explaining this situation to neighbor Kelly or risk death by frostbite while hoofing it down to the house for a shovel. Good thing I always pack snacks.
Anyways, I guess what I’m saying, Martha, is some of you have never been pulled out of the ditch by your dad’s old feed pickup in a wind chill blizzard warning and it shows. If you need me, I’ll be conceptualizing my own magazine idea that will offer fewer tips on decorating that space above your cabinets and more information on the flooring that best blends with scoria mud, how to find a body shop that will removed goat hoof dents and a list of excuses you can use on your neighbor should you find your car stuck in a snowbank. In your own yard.
I think it’s going to be a hit.
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.