Iced In

With an Ailing Computer

By Marylyn Cork

Woe is me! My computer is dead, just when I have deadlines to meet. But no, it’s only severely ill. Sometimes it works but most of the time it doesn’t. It needs to go to a hospital but I need it to hang in long enough to meet those deadlines. The business that has always taken care of my computer no longer offers a repair service, even as the roads around up here in northern Idaho are just now becoming fit to travel. It’s still January as I write.

It’s like this: We are having what some folks think of as “an old-fashioned winter.” Me, not quite. An old-fashioned winter means temperatures of twenty and thirty below zero. The coldest it’s been here so far is maybe ten below—almost there, but not quite.

Snow began to fall before Christmas and by January, my hill, which I can almost always whip up and down in front-wheel drive, became less accommodating. My children asked me not to drive. I didn’t want to anyway, so they began running my errands for me. I spent Christmas on the hill above me with my eldest and his wife, making the short drive in his 4WD truck. We spent Christmas Day watching three whitetail deer pawing at grass in front of the dining room window. There was good snow cover then, but nothing extreme.

More snow arrived, and all the world looked like a Christmas card. Then rain and a thaw came, followed by more snow, then temperatures near or just below zero, and after a few days, more snow and rain mixed in. I ended up with four inches of solid ice that attached itself to both snow and roof and would not slide. I was beginning to worry about my roof, especially when I discovered nobody would get up on it to shovel it this year because of the danger. My daughter-in-law investigated, and the only price anyone would do it for was eight hundred dollars! Fortunately, the latest thaw set in a week or so ago and has succeeded in removing most of the load.

The county kept busy plowing and sanding—I am not faulting them—but they apparently couldn’t keep up with the alternate snowstorms and periods of thaw and rain that froze at night and warmed up enough in the daytime to make more water to freeze again that night. My hill became totally unmanageable for anything without 4WD. Mounds of snow and ice froze mountains in front of and on a cattleguard, which created horrible “holes” that lasted for almost a week.  Even so, the first time I went out, with my son in his 4WD, I thought the level roads were worse than the hill. One literally risked a broken hip just by setting foot on them.

I finally mailed my great-grandchildren in Seattle their Christmas gifts about the middle of January and then the presents got hung up on the wrong side of Snoqualmie when all the passes were closed and were delayed even more. Plans of delivering them in person were squelched.

I helped my sister celebrate her birthday almost a month after the fact, and yesterday she got her payoff for the winter. A big bull elk had visited in the early morning and tried to fight a wooden ladder that Rachel had left outside. He got his big set of antlers caught and stumbled around the yard banging the ladder on the ground, trying to shake it off. Fun to watch, since he succeeded and didn’t damage anything, except maybe the ladder.

Oh, I expect we’ll all be happy when March arrives and this is being read, but right now at least the skiers and kids among us seem to be enjoying the first snowy year we’ve had in several winters. A few in-a-hurry drivers, most likely newcomers, have even learned that you can’t pass a snowplow on the right.

Now, if I can just find someone to fix this computer!

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Marylyn Cork

About Marylyn Cork

Marylyn Cork has lived in Priest River more than fifty years and in Bonner County more than sixty years. Writing since she was nine years old, she retired as editor of the Priest River Times in 2001. She enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, camping, and traveling.