Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Opinion

February 12, 2010

Slip, slidin’ away: Survival skills kick in when winter’s fury storms region

Living on the top of an isolated mountain in southern West Virginia can be wonderful — at least during three seasons of the year.

In the spring, crocus, apple blossoms and trillium burst forth in an amazing show of spring’s beauty. In the summer, deer, wild turkey and other critters meander through the sliver of green brush where landscaped yard meets hardwood forest. And in autumn ... well, nature’s vivid display of foliage is almost overwhelming, with hues of red, yellow and orange painting the landscape like a Monet masterpiece.

But winter — let’s just say it’s not the so-called wonderland as declared in one popular song.

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Most folks who live in rural areas of the county who have to be at work — rain, sleet or snow — have four-wheel-drive vehicles. The husband and I are no exception. We know when the weather gets rough a heavy-duty SUV is needed to get out of the “boonies” and in to work.

For years, my SUV has navigated our mountainous driveway with no problems. But this season we were thrown a curve ball.

The problems started in December, when the horrifically deep snow made passage up the driveway impossible. While snow depth totals varied across the region, the measure on our mountaintop was about 2 feet. The SUV tried to move forward in the snow, but could only push it a few feet before becoming entrenched in a snow bank. It took us three days to dig out.

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I’m not sure I even remember the last time I actually made the complete drive up the mountain this year. My vehicle has slipped and spun so much this season my memory is a blur of white mush and ice.

Each time the SUV begins sliding sideways, I will glance to the right out of the passenger window, looking toward the steep, long drop-off to the Bluestone River. The mere thought of a plunge into water and ice stops the acceleration process immediately.

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