Snow Anyone?

Prairie Wool

Helen Row Toews

What a storm! One minute we’re pottering around outside, completing a few last jobs in preparation for winter, and the next we’re shoveling the car out from under a foot of snow. It’s remarkable how quickly weather can change here on the Prairies. Fortunately, my school bus route is pretty straightforward. I don’t have the hills and gullies that some drivers do; those are hazardous.

Snow was no picnic when I drove a corral cleaning truck either. We’d work until just before Christmas each year, but a layer of snow would sometimes make an already slippery situation quite unmanageable. We’d use the tow rope a lot; sometimes three of us, hooked up in a row, were needed to pull out of a sticky situation.

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During my time driving a truck there, I worked with a young man who was the strong, silent type. He was a dandy driver who, in my boss’s eyes, always did everything right. Annoyingly, he kind of did do everything right. (There’s nothing more irritating than someone who thinks they’re superior, and then really is).

He was a fellow of few words; preferring to slant a scornful stare out his truck window; cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth, rather than speak. In all the time he was there, I’ll bet he only said fifteen words to me. And most of them were to criticize.

When I worked for Dave and his corral cleaning company, I was hollered at plenty for dumb things I’d done. I rolled down a hill in second gear (risking a run-away), I drove with the wind behind me (causing the manure to blow up and over the cab making a mess) and once, on a frosty morning in November, I didn’t run the floor chains (they moved paddles along the box to push everything out the back) long enough, and they froze solid. But the Golden Boy did no wrong. Ever.

When new drivers joined our team, I was the one who showed them how things were done (partly because I spoke), and I often helped them with clean-up at the end of the day. The young fellow only looked out for himself.

One day we pulled into a farmyard where snow had fallen through the night. Everything was a beautiful, pristine white—even the manure pile. I was first in line to be loaded and took care to follow the same path we had entered on, since I didn’t know what lay under all the hummocks in the small field we were rumbling through.

I passed the young fellow as he was next in line and noticed, with surprise, that he was taking a shortcut straight through a large hump in the middle of the field. Suddenly, a horrible grinding noise pierced the still morning air and he came to an abrupt halt. The cigarette fell from his lips in alarm. He had driven over a pile of rocks.

And while I wasn’t happy the truck was damaged, or that Dave now had expensive repairs to make—all in all it was a pretty good day.

Give the gift of a smile this Christmas. Helen’s newly released books of entertaining anecdotes are available on Amazon as Prairie Wool Books or through her website myprairiewool.com.

Helen has lived on the family farm near Marshall, Sk. for much of her life. She works as a writer, EA and bus driver for her local school. This, along with her love of the Canadian prairies, travel and all things humorous, is what she draws from to write these tales.

 

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