Wind, Snow, and Ice

by Jason Smith

Yesterday, some snowy weather systems passed through Kentucky. Fortunately, the temperatures were warm enough that the snow was unable to stick. However, with temperatures dropping overnight, moisture on roadways would solidify into black ice for the morning commute.

I departed for my Saturday route. On the schedule, two yards in Louisville, one in Sonora, four in Elizabethtown, and one in Radcliff. As I drove towards Louisville on 31W, I spotted some MPs on the Chaffee overpass. The two other cars around me were slowing down. I also slowed down and moved into the passing lane when I felt a slight skid under my vehicle. Fortunately, I was driving at a low enough speed that I did not lose control of the Jeep. Also, the Jeep didn’t seem to lose any traction. It was at that moment, I spotted a sports car facing the southbound direction over on the shoulder of the road. There was a driver in the car; he was conscious and speaking with the MP.

Two days ago, I was driving my son to daycare. When I had turned onto 313 North from Lincoln Trail Boulevard, I began to accelerate to climb the P & L Railroad overpass bridge. The Jeep lost traction and skidded, almost fishtailing into the southbound lane where there was oncoming traffic. Fortunately, the Jeep has a traction control feature that prevented us from skidding out of control. Unfortunately, about an hour later, there was an accident at that same location. With this in mind, I decided to use caution as I drove to Louisville on Saturday morning.

As I worked my first yard, there was light snow accumulation on the grounds from the day before. I finished the yard and drove to the next yard. In the second yard, it had begun to snow. The flakes were light and fluffy, but it was still too warm and the flakes melted as they landed upon the grass. The light snow accumulation that I did encounter added a level of difficulty to cleaning the yards. I had to move slower where patches of snow were abundant to be certain that I was being thorough in cleaning up all of the dog waste in the yards.

I drove to my third yard in Sonora and spotted an accident on I-65 northbound. Traffic was backed up a long while. I made a mental note to take an alternate route on my return to Elizabethtown.

In my fourth yard, the wind had kicked up. This yard was like being in a large open area. Both the front and back yards are indeed large open areas, so gusts of wind were very noticeable in the yard. Although it was 31 degrees, the wind made it feel colder. By the time I started cleaning the back yard, the cold began to cut through my gloves. A stinging sensation pulsed through my fingertips. It became unbearable, but I did not want to waste any time by taking a short break in the Jeep to warm up. I had learned in the military that in cold temperatures, the cardiovascular system attempts to regulate body temperature around vital organs. Therefore, blood flow becomes greater around the heart, lungs, and brain and blood flow becomes less in extremities. I paused at the back of the yard, placed my dustpan and rake down, and started doing jumping jacks. I thought, If I could just get my heart rate up, I should be able to get blood flowing back into my fingers. Sure enough it worked. I could feel my fingers again for the rest of the time I spent in the yard.

In my eighth yard, I expected to see the dogs. They are usually always outside to greet me when I arrive. Only today, they were not. I wondered if they had gone inside. By now, the snowfall had picked up and was constant. The flakes were now like small Styrofoam balls. As I walked from one end of the yard to the other, I heard a sound like thunder as Sassy and Bilver bolted out of an igloo. Of course! I thought. It’s awful cold out here. If I were they, I too would be cuddled up inside an igloo to keep warm.

As I turned the corner to the side yard, Crystal came rushing out to see me. On my return trip to the other side of the yard, Polar, the alpha of this pack stopped me midway. I said hello, petted him, and continued on my way. He proceeded over to a tree where he lay down against it. He groaned a satisfactory growl as if to say, “Oh, yeah! That’s it, that’s the spot, right there!” Apparently, he had an itch to scratch and my petting him didn’t do justice.

On another pass, Polar approached me. I happened to notice that he was favoring his front right paw as he hobbled over in my direction. “It’s been awful cold lately,” I told him. “Did you slip on some ice? Let me take a look.”

I knelt down and asked him for his paw. He placed it in my hand and had a pitiful look on his face. “It hurts. Am I going to be alright?”

“I think you should take it easy and rest,” I told him. “You should be fine.”

At that moment, Bilver and Crystal crowded us, jealous for my attention. Polar was not happy about this and started growling, “Get away! Now! I’m warning you!”

Bilver didn’t seem to heed the warning. Polar barked, “I’m warning you, son! Get out of my space, now!”

Afraid for their safety, I stood up and waved my hands. “Hey!” I said. “Cool it.” They broke the huddle and went their separate ways.

Moments later, I saw Polar at the other end of the yard, lying down. He looked up at me, “I think I’m going to take it easy,” he said.

“That’s a good idea,” I replied.

For the most part, it was a pleasant day cleaning yards.

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