New Englanders tend toward a handle-it-on-our-own, we’ll-find-a-way-through hardiness that holds self-reliance on a pedestal as high as our current snow banks. Slam us with endless snowfall? We have shovels. More record wind chills? Throw another log on the fire.
A gimpy leg and balance issues make it difficult to drive a snow blower or wield an axe. No problem, I’d planned a way to handle it earlier this winter:
Last week, while my son was at school and my husband away on business, the power went out. No problem, I thought. I can handle this on my own: there’s a generator. I waited for it to kick in.
I put on another sweater and waited some more.
It was getting mighty nippy inside. Again, I thought, no problem. There’s a key. I know where it is and how to use it. Self-reliant-me can start it manually.
Key in hand, I glanced out the window and plotted my path out to it. I donned my boots and wondered about the size of them and the depths of the snow. No problem, I thought, and added snow shoes to the solution.
From the doorway, I gazed at the mass of white between me and the generator. Not too far, really. But, though Tommy had found it great fun to rescue me a la Saint Bernard-style in the backyard, the drifts across that short distance were thicker and much less inviting. Even Saint Sir Thomas would struggle in that tundra.
Strapped into snowshoes, key in hand and Sir Thomas at my side, I imagined my PD-challenged body out there, belly-up like a bug, unable to right itself. Thomas would be nearby shivering both from the cold and the anxiety of not being able to get either one of us to safe ground.
I unstrapped, untied, unzipped, stuffed self-reliance in my pocket with the generator key and called the fire department’s non-emergency line.
What little sense of hardiness that remained in my New England veins drained at the sight of three men in full regalia emerging from the truck. When they stepped inside, though, each was quick with a smile and easy laughter, bringing in a warmth even before getting the generator humming.
“Thank you,” I said to each as they headed back to their truck.
The last one glanced at Tommy and asked, “Is that one of Carlene’s dogs?”
“Thank you,” he said. “You made my day.”
I can handle that.
* Note: For anyone unfamiliar with Carlene White, she is the founder of the Service Dog Project which raises and trains Great Danes as mobility service dogs for the disabled www.servicedogproject.org