I've been giving an old-style Vermonter rides to work; yesterday evening, he asked if I could drive him to the laundromat down the street at quarter-to-six the next morning. I'm always up earlier, so despite the forecast which called for two inches of snow, I agreed.
This morning I awoke to at least five inches, and still falling. I thought I'd have to decline; then I thought, he probably won't ask. But he showed up at the agreed-upon time, ready to go. Fortunately, the ice scraper I bought at a garage sale in North Myrtle Beach had a brush attached to the handle. At the time, I couldn't figure out what it was for...
Making all this more challenging is the fact that this house is set back about half a block, with a sloping drive to the main street. But a friendly neighbor from Vermont, back in Myrtle Beach had gifted me his ski gloves, I bought suitable (if cheap) boots at Walmart, and I was prepared. After brushing an absurdly thick layer of snow off the car and letting it run for awhile, we started out. He asked me--quite casually, in his gruff, understated way--whether I'd ever driven in snow before. I told him "Once--but I've watched a lot of videos on YouTube."
But I drove (as I had the first time, in a freak storm on the Georgia coast many years ago) flawlessly. Here is another case reminding me of Lex Murphy on Jurassic Park, as she recognizes the UNIX system: "I know this."
But while Mathew Franklin Whittier saw plenty of snow during his life, he had no occasion to drive a car in it, as cars wouldn't be invented for some 30 years after his death. So who, exactly, was it who became proficient driving in snow? I have speculated that there is at least one intermediate life, as a woman in the early 20th century. I have never been able to locate her in history, though it seems, with the clues I have, I should be able to. As near as I can tell, she grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, then as a young woman, was forced by circumstances to leave her family estate, ending up, for a while, in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Then she would have made her way to the West Coast, and possibly, for a time, to South Florida (where I grew up in this lifetime). All this is based on scant clues, of both the paranormal variety and the normal variety.
So would one have occasion to drive in snow in Fredericksburg? I'm assuming so, but I'm going to look it up, now...
Indeed one would, with an average snowfall of 13 inches annually. The feeling I got, as this skill resurfaced, was artistic...nuanced...that's the best I can explain it. That I was an artist behind the wheel.
The scene outside, right now, is fantastical. But what they say about ice being treacherous but snow being easier to drive in, is wrong. It appears, from my recent adventure, that you slip and slide in snow, also. I have specially-designed tires which are said to be highly rated for snow. But I have no point of comparison. I will say that when push came to shove, this morning, they gripped when I needed them to grip. So presumably they are working--all I expect from them, is to give me that edge which makes the difference between making the grade, or the turn, and not making it.
Here are the things which seem to be affected by being here: my sense of Abby's astral presence, when she is with me, is stronger. My handwriting is better (Mathew's was professional-grade). I am not reacting like a Miami boy transplanted into moose country--I feel at home, here. As said earlier, I get occasional instances where I seem to remember, on a gut level, being someone else--like remembering myself as a kid in summer camp. But these are very, very fleeting. I recognize that some of the people I'm meeting are karmic connections. The fellow who runs the house is all about things nautical--I am sure my connection with him must go to the lifetime before Mathew, when I was a British sailor. The native Vermonter I just gave a ride to, must be someone Mathew became friends with in the back woods of Massachusetts or Vermont, probably when he was growing up. It is about the most unlikely friendship you would ever see--and yet, there is a mutual respect of some kind there. These guys are tough--not pretending to be tough, like I've seen at gyms and such. I mean, he's just tough, and gruff. But a good guy for all that.
In fact, the entire "society" here at the house seems to be divided between the tough guys, and the sensitive guys. This dichotomy is really pronounced here (i.e., in the house and presumably in Maine as a whole). That must be why I see this theme emerging repeatedly in Mathew's creative writing, as a dichotomy within himself. Now that I have Mathew's writing in context, it is making more sense that way. I have always instinctively understood it from the personal point of view--but now I am seeing it from the cultural point of view.
My elderly cat, Gwendolyn, is wheezing in her sleep. I don't know if I isolated her in my room, and pulled her out of the cigarette smoke which permeates the rest of the house, in time. I had forgotten that she had this problem, which is why I stopped burning incense years ago. Always, it is the one thing you forget that kills you. I hope it won't have killed her. Not taking the smoking more seriously was my fatal flaw in taking this rental--but had I not done so, I'm not sure I would have tried to come at all. Generally, every available situation has some fatal flaw in it. Unless you have money, it is almost a given that the first situation you are able to obtain, won't be viable. Otherwise, it wouldn't have been available.
The same may go for the job I'll be interviewing for, tomorrow. But so long as it doesn't injure my health in some way, I'll probably take it. If I can drive down an inclined, unploughed driveway in five inches of accumulated snow, and drive along a street which even the locals are avoiding, and make it back up that driveway, plunking the car precisely back where it was--having driven in snow only once before--I think I can do whatever else is needed.
Tonight I'll be attending a service of the Portland Spiritualist Church. It's been 161 years since I was active in that organization (though I think that doesn't seem like such a long time to the spirits).
I'm going to go out and get a couple of photographs to place here...
Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.
Music opening this page, "Snowfall," by Liz Story
from the Windham Hill sampler album, "A Winter's Solstice VI"