6

The Rabbits’ New Home – Part 2

Image result for snowstorm

Where we are: The Rabbit family went for a walk one winter morning. When they arrived back home, they discovered that the wind had blown a huge drift of snow over the opening to their burrow. The snow was so deep that they were unable to dig through it. Luckily, a friendly hawk came along and showed them the way to a deer shelter.

Pamela Rabbit slowly woke up. She realized that it smelled strange in her room. She looked around. She slowly remembered that she wasn’t home, she was with some deer that had helped them the day before.

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Pamela: Mom! Mom!

Susie: Stop shouting. I’m right here.

The rabbit parents were talking with several of the deer.

Pamela: What’s going on?

Jonathan: They’re trying to figure out how to get us home.

Pamela: There’s a whole bunch of then. Can’t they just help us dig?

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Jonathan: You’re goofy, sis. Deer don’t burrow.

Pamela: Oh yeah. I guess not. What’s going to happen?

Jonathan: They haven’t been able to figure that out. If you go out of this bunch of trees, you can see that it’s been snowing. A lot.

Pete Rabbit, seeing that Pamela had finally gotten up, went over to the children.

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Pete: How’s it going, kids? Get enough sleep, Pamela?

Pamela: It was very nice. One of the lady deer let me sleep cuddled up next to her. It was so nice and warm. Are we going home soon?

Pete: We’ve been talking with the adult deer. The weather has gotten really bad.  The deer have graciously asked us to stay until the storm is over.

Jonathan: We’re not going to stay here forever, are we?

Pete: Of course not. But it’s too windy and snowy to do anything else right now.

Pamela: OK. Then I’m going back to sleep.

Image result for rabbits in snow

Pete and Jonathan laughed. The storm lasted three days. Finally, the sun came out again. But the snow had almost doubled on the ground. The rabbits were in despair. How would they get home?

Susie: I guess we should have built that emergency burrow.

Pete: You’re right. But it’s too late to worry about that.

Molly: You’re welcome to stay with us as long as you’d like.

Susie: That’s very kind of you. But we don’t want to take up your space and food any longer than we have to.

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They heard a rustling in the trees. The rabbits wanted to run, but there was nowhere to go.

Voice: Hi Ho, Neighbors! What do you think of our lovely weather?

A little more rustling, and a very large badger emerged through the bushes. The rabbits were terrified.

Pamela: We’re going to get eaten. I know we are. First the hawk. Now a badger.

Jonathan: Look how big he is, he must eat a lot.

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Molly: Wally Badger! How did you get here through all that snow?

Wally: It’s not so bad. I just dug a tunnel over here.  It was a little lonely in the burrow.

Wally looked around and spotted the rabbits. He ran over to them.

Wally: Bunnies! I love bunnies!

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Jonathan: Are you going to eat us?

Wally (puzzled): Why would I eat you? I just had breakfast.

Molly: Let me introduce you. Wally Badger, this is Pete and Susie Rabbit and their children, Jonathan and Pamela. They got shut out of their home by the storm, and we’re trying to help them get back in.

Wally: I’m sorry to hear that. Maybe I can help. We badgers are terrific diggers you know.

Pete: I’m not sure. It must be awfully deep by now.

Wally: Well there’s only one way to find out. Let me get some friends. I’ll be back in a bit.

Wally raced off before anyone else had a chance to say anything.

 Image result for badger running

Next week: Badgers to the rescue.

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images

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13

The Rabbits’ New Home

Image result for rabbits in the snow

The morning after a huge snowfall, the Rabbit family decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining and it wasn’t bitterly cold. The snow was like a blanket covering the forest.

Susie Rabbit: Look, kids! Isn’t it beautiful?

Pamela: The wind is ruffling my fur!

Jonathan: You made me get up out of my nice warm bed. I’m cold.

Pete: Quit grumbling. Your mother’s right. The forest is beautiful after snow. Everything is so bright.

Suddenly a gust of wind came through that ruffled everyone’s fur. It seemed to get colder.

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Susie: I guess it is a little windy. Let’s get some food and go back home. That looks like some nice bushes over there.

They hopped over and got their fill of twigs. The wind started blowing again.

Pete: Let’s go! Follow me.

The rabbits hopped in the direction of home. It seemed to take a lot longer than it did coming out.

Jonathan: Where’s our burrow, Dad?

Pamela: Shouldn’t we have been there by now?

Pete: We should be there soon.

They hopped along for a few minutes longer. Pete saw a tree and realized that they had hopped past where they should have stopped.

Image result for rabbits in the snow

Pete: That’s odd. There’s the big apple tree. We should have found our burrow a few minutes ago.

Susie: We hid it pretty well. Let’s go back. We had a lot of snow and it probably looks different.

Pamela: Sure, Mom. Like we wouldn’t recognize our home.

Jonathan: They’re right. We’ve gone too far.

The rabbits hopped back and forth without any luck. The kids were starting to panic.

Image result for rabbit burrow in winter

Pamela (crying): Where’s our burrow? We’re going to freeze to death!

Susie: Don’t worry. Your father built it. I’m sure he can find it.

They could barely hear Pete’s voice.

Pete: I found it! It’s over here.

The rest hop over to him. They look around and don’t see anything.

Image result for snow covered trees

Jonathan: That’s not funny, Dad. It’s cold out here.

Pete: I’m not joking. Our burrow is down there.

He pointed to a large pile of snow that has appeared since they left the burrow that morning.

Susie: Oh, my goodness! He’s right. That tree over there is by the back of the burrow.

Jonathan: What do we do now?

Pamela: Can we just use the back door?

Image result for rabbits digging in snow

Pete: I can’t find it. We’ll have to dig this one out.

After a while of digging, they realized that there was too much snow to paw through by themselves. They would need to ask for help.

Pete: I guess we need to find someone to help.

Susie: Who would that be? Don’t you remember that you wanted to get away from the crowds? We’re a long way from the community warren.

Jonathan: Look! It’s starting to snow.

Large flakes began to fall on the rabbits. Pamela started to cry again. Pete looked defeated. He didn’t know what to do. Suddenly, they heard a loud voice.

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Voice: Rabbits! Hey, Rabbits!

Pete: Who is that? I can’t see you.

Voice: Look up. It’s me.

They looked up and saw that it was Eddie, a local hawk.

Jonathan: What a great day. First, we lose our house. Now we’re going to get eaten.

Eddie: I’m hurt. If I wanted to eat you, I could have done it before now. You seem like nice rabbits. I can show you the way to some deer I know. They don’t dig, but at least it’s warmer there.

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Susie: How do we know we can trust him?

Pete: Do you have a better idea?

They followed Eddie. It seemed like a long way, and Eddie talked all the way. Apparently hawks get lonely in the winter when some of their friends migrate. Finally, they came  upon a sheltered spot.

Eddie: Molly! Hey Molly!

A large female deer got up and walked out of the shelter.

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Molly: Eddie! We haven’t seen you for a while. How’s it going?

Eddie: Not bad. But these guys need your help.

He pointed at the rabbits. They shivered and looked exhausted.

Molly: Oh, you poor things!

Eddie: They’ve had some bad luck. Their burrow disappeared when a bunch of snow fell on it. They didn’t have anywhere to go. I thought maybe you could keep them warm until they figure out what to do.

Molly: Of course, we will. You come with me.

The rabbits thanked Eddie and followed Mollie. They were too cold and tired to think about anything. When they entered the shelter, a couple of does shifted positions to give them somewhere to lie down. Soon everyone was asleep.

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Next week: Will the rabbits be able to get back into their burrow before spring?

 

All pictures courtesy of Google Images.

12

Is Sammy Squirrely? – Part 2

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Where we are: All during the fall, Sammy had been acting oddly. Rather than working with the other squirrels to get ready for winter, he spent all his time on the computer. His friends and neighbors think he might be losing his mind.

It was a hard winter. It started snowing in November and didn’t let up. Soon it was higher than the squirrels. The families relied on the nuts they had stored in their trees for a long time. Finally, it was time to go out and get the nuts they had buried in the ground. It wasn’t easy.

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Sarah: Three squirrels in my class missed school today. They had to go hunt for food.

Peter: There were five gone from my class.

June: This is the worst winter I can remember. I’m glad we built our nest in such a huge tree and were able to fill it. Spring is almost here, so we should be OK. Especially since your cousin was nice enough to send us all that food for Christmas.

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Peter: My new favorite nut is the pecan.

Sarah: Those were pretty yummy. But I liked the dried fruit.

Sammy: We need to do something nice for Joey in the spring. Living in Georgia is good for food, but we can think of something.

June: I wish we could do something to help our friends.

Sammy knew it was time to see if his idea worked. He was extremely grateful to Princess ERin for telling him about the Global Peanut Positioning Satellite (GPPS). It was a little odd that a cat would be so helpful, but it sounded useful.

Between the GPPS and the data he had collected, he should be able to find the nuts the family had buried.

Image result for squirrel in school

Sammy: We can share the nuts we buried last fall.

Peter: If the other squirrels could find their nuts, they wouldn’t be hungry. How can we find ours?

Sammy: The project you were all laughing about last fall should tell us where the nuts are.

Sarah: Do your really think it will work? That would be wonderful.

 Sammy: There’s only one way to find out. I’ll go load my data into the positioning system.

Image result for squirrels eating

Sammy leaves the room to work on the computer. He finally comes out when June calls him for dinner.

Peter: How’s the system coming Dad?

Sammy: Pretty well. It looks like all of the data transferred. Now we have to wait for the next sunny day.

Sarah: Why does it have to be sunny?

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Sammy: The way the GPPS works is to get the position of the nuts from a satellite in the sky. It has to be sunny for the information to get to us.

Peter: OK. Whatever. Let’s wait for the sun.

The next few days were overcast. Finally, there was a good day.

By that time, the neighborhood knew about the experiment. A crowd gathers to see if it would work.

Sammy: OK, here we go. No promises.

He calls up the first location. The GPPS gives him directions to the nuts. The other squirrels follow him as he tracks the nuts.

Sammy: The first nuts should be here. Peter, you and your friends dig down and see what you find.

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The young squirrels quickly burrow through the snow and the hard ground. Just under the surface, they find a large stash of acorns.

The squirrels watch in amazement and applaud.

Dan: I admit it, buddy. I thought you might have gone off the deep end. But this is incredible.

Kelly: June, you’re married to a genius!

Sammy blushes in embarrassment.

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Sammy: It’s just a little technology, not genius.

Dan: Whatever. You’re set for the winter.

Sammy: We were already set. These are for you folks.

The other squirrels look at Sammy. They go back to thinking he had lost his mind.

Sammy: I’m serious. We have enough nuts. We have piles like these all over the place. We want to share them.

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Kelly: How did you get so many nuts?

Sammy: We probably don’t have any more than your family gathered, but ours are buried in piles instead of one by one. Besides, I have an excellent team of hunters. (He looks at Peter and Sarah.)

Kelly: Are you sure you don’t need them?

June: Absolutely. We’re set for the rest of winter.

Sammy: Dig in. We’ll get the rest of the nuts later and you can divide them up. Next year, we can track everybody’s nuts and won’t worry about starving.

The hungry squirrels devour the nuts in the first hole and take the rest home. Luckily spring arrives before the acorns are gone.

Image result for squirrels in sun

 

Pictures courtesy of Google Images

 

43

Cat Forum: Interview with Kosmo

Snoops and Kommando Kitty here. Welcome to Cat Forum. We have a  very special guest this month: Kosmo, who comes all the way from Finland. We didn’t know where Finland is, so we had to look it up. It is a LONG way from Michigan. And he speaks really good American cat (which is a good thing, since we didn’t even know there was a Finnish cat language.) Kosmo appears in the blog Photofinland with a lot of really cool pictures. In fact, Horatio Hedgehog convinced us to put a second link further down when Kosmo talks about the hedgehogs he knows.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

 My name is Kosmo and I live in the western part of Finland. I am about Four years old. I don´t remember much of my childhood, but one day when I was walking around hungry and tired, I heard humans talking in one yard. So I walked there, a woman was sitting on the steps and I walked straight to her lap. She asked me if I am hungry, and then I knew I will live in this house forever.

Kosmo´s mom: We tried to find Kosmo´s home with no result, nobody had seen him earlier. Kosmo had been a home cat, because he was used to living inside.

Kosmo’s Mom is also an extremely talented photographer

Your humans seem to really love the outdoors. Do you get to help them with their projects?

Not much, because at first I was really afraid to go out, because of my past, somebody had left me out. Dad took me out at first in his lap, then in a leash, and now after three years effort I walk well in a leash. I have my own path and I walk it with Dad twice a day.

You may know that we live with Horatio Hedgehog. Have you ever met one?

Oh yes! Hedgehogs are living in my yard. In a most peaceful corner in my yard is a place for hedgehogs to hibernate. Dad has made two small houses for them and then covered the houses with dry leaves and branches. In our blog are photos of one house and hedgehogs.

It looks really snowy and cold there (and dark). Do you get extra snuggles this time of year?

Yes, my humans like to snuggle with me, because I am snoring really loud, and they love it.

Do you live with other creatures (furry or non-furry) aside from your adult humans?

 No, just we three together. One cat girl comes every day to eat here. She is waiting outside the door, then I invite her to come in to eat. We know where her home is, but our food is better, I think. I just watch her eat, maybe some days we are playing together.

What’s your favorite thing to do with your humans?

 Snuggling, of course, daily brushing, playing “running around like crazies”, and my walks outside with Dad.

What’s your favorite way to play?

Pawball is the number one.

Are there special Finnish treats that you get? Maybe something fishy?

This is really embarrassing, but I am afraid of fish. When I was new here, my humans had real, tiny fishes for me, I and ran away under the bed.

Do you have good cat TV (window viewing) there?

I have two great cat TV’s and lots of birds.

Is there anything you would like to add?

 This interview in your blog is a great honour to me , thank you!

Horatio here. Kosmo really is a good guy – for a cat. If you get to Finland, you should definitely look him up.

 

19

Can Demons Possess a Car?

Yes, I’m finally back. (And those of you who didn’t realize I was missing should not expect any chocolate eggs this year. The Easter Bunny and I are long-time BFFs, and he knows these things.)

I’m concerned about my car. It seems to have developed a bad attitude, at best. And possibly an alternative personality. You may recall that I got my Hyundai Elantra about a year ago. It was wonderful to drive, especially following the car with bad tires and no heat.

The first sign came late last year, after one of the early snows. In our part of Michigan, winter generally starts deceptively gentle with a couple of light snowfalls. After one of these, my car required a little extra effort to get out of its parking place at work. I figured I had just parked the front tires on ice and didn’t worry about it.

The evil side came out a few weeks later. We have a long, wide driveway and a broken snowblower. And lots of ice. One day, I turned into the driveway and stopped. Rather, the car stopped. Right at the entrance to the driveway. (It did have the courtesy to get off the road.)

The usual tricks of rocking back and forth or swearing did nothing. Finally, I asked my son to get it to move. (It must be somewhere in the male gene, because he did it.) While he was working to move it, my daughter came home. She had to wait in the road to be able to get in. (There are advantages to living off the beaten path – she wasn’t an impediment to lots of traffic.)

Her car had been having no trouble in the ice and snow. When she pulled in that day, her car got stuck. I think my car laughed. Not too long after that, the fuel line in my daughter’s car sprung a leak. Coincidence? I think not.

Pulling out one day, my car got stuck on the ice again. My son brought out the kitty litter, and I was good to go. The cats did not appreciate him using the good stuff.

Pretty soon, the kitty litter stopped working. I’m sure the car decided that we’d solved the ice problem.

Next trick was to get a tire caught in the frozen snow at the edge of the driveway. Like much of the country, it’s been really cold here. Unlike much of the country, we really haven’t been drowned in snow. We don’t have the huge snowdrifts that scream out, “Stop! You’d be an idiot to drive here!” So, all of a sudden, I no longer knew how to back out of the driveway. Then we’d shovel, kitty litter, try to move the car, swear, and repeat. A lot. I don’t generally swear, and now I remember why –there aren’t that many words and they’re worthless for fixing the problem.

My husband works in maintenance at a school district. He brought home some incredibly hideous carpet to put under the wheels when the car gets stuck. I’m not sure whether it’s the traction or the car cringing from the pattern, but it works.

It appeared that the car was running out of tricks. I thought maybe we were good to go.

Then apparently it realized that its real enemy wasn’t me, it was my son. He was the one who kept rescuing me. So it started turning into snowbanks when he left his friends’ houses. Nothing serious. Wouldn’t want to harm its good looks. Just enough to require digging out.

The car was designed in Korea and built here. I know it’s been tested in snow and ice.

I think that I have somehow offended the Snow Queen. I wonder if an ice cream cake would be a good peace offering?

2

No Points for Worrying

At the beginning of the 20th century, Ivan Pavlov performed his famous experiments on conditioned reflex. You may recall that when he fed dogs, he rang a bell at the same time. When the dogs saw the food, they began to salivate. Before long, Pavlov stopped bringing the food and only rang the bell. The dogs associated the bell with the food, and would salivate at the sound of the bell even if the food was not present. Pavlov repeated the experience with various visual and audio stimuli and obtained the same results. He also performed similar experiments on children successfully.

I have been thinking about Pavlov for the past few days. We were supposed to get another “major snowstorm” which would “dump 6-8 inches” overnight yesterday and create a “miserable morning commute.” It was also supposed to snow on Saturday, which it did. But it was a minor snow, so the weathercasters didn’t get very excited about it.

They were too busy with the “major snow system” developing in the west. You may recall that the part of Michigan where we live is not known for massive amounts of snow. So when we expect more than 3-4 inches, it’s a major event. As you may well imagine, this winter has been a meteorologist’s dream. More nights than not, the news leads with the weather. You’d never know we’ve been getting weather around these parts for as long as most people can remember.

So all weekend, the drumbeat has been going for our newest storm. They showed us all the pretty pictures on the weather maps with the light blues, the dark blues, and the lavenders. We saw pictures of massive storms in the eastern and western parts of the country. As far as I know, none of the viewing audience lives in New Jersey or Idaho, but I guess you can never be too careful.

Yesterday, the store was packed. It was like the week before Christmas. I guess that all the people who were left with only one loaf of bread and two bottles of wine after the one major storm we did get this year didn’t want to be caught short again. I definitely understand that people don’t like to drive in bad weather, but seriously. The same people who were saying we were going to get all the snow we also telling us it was going to be 38 degrees by the afternoon.

The break room buzzed with talk about the storm. Some people weren’t going to come in if it was too bad. There was general commiserating about how bad the roads would be. No mention of the number of people who were driving 4-wheel drive vehicles or lived within 5 miles of the store.

I bet you can guess what happened. Pavlov rang the bell, the people salivated, and the bowl was only partially full of kibble. It did start snowing yesterday afternoon. The little tiny flakes that seem to fall forever. But by the 10 o’clock news they were telling us that the majority of the storm was passed. There were two inches, tops, on our porch. This morning we woke up to a total of a scant three inches.

The road commission had apparently listened to the forecasts for the afternoon warm-up since they were pretty much AWOL on the drive in. So the morning commute was unpleasant. Then the sun came out. The roads cleared. The temperature was near 40 degrees. And no one starved, cut off from humanity.

So the weathercasters are relegated to telling us about the warm-up we will be seeing for a few days. But then we’re in for another “major cool-down”. It’s going back to the teens and twenties. Yep, we’re in for a continuation of winter, just like the groundhogs told us.

The title above is a quotation from Bob Mathias I thought was appropriate for this post. Mr. Mathias was a 17-year-old decathlete in the 1948 Olympics. While all of the other athletes were practicing up until the moment the competition started, he would be under a tree reading or napping. When someone asked him how he could be so relaxed, he told them that he didn’t get points for worrying. Mathias went on to win the decathlon by a wide margin.

Lest you think his winning was a fluke due to poor nutrition in Europe during the war, he also won in 1952. Afterward, he graduated from Stanford University and was commissioned into the U.S. Marines. He became a four-term U.S. representative from California.

Moral: If you’re a world-class athlete, don’t worry about the snow. Or something like that.

2

My Kingdom for a Horse (or a Pair of Oxen)

You may have seen the car commercial where the man on an airplane clicks a remote at his car as the plane passes over the parking lot. You then see that the car is nice and warm as the family gets off the parking lot shuttle and settles into it. I’m not sure what airport they use for the commercial. Any time I have flown in the winter (or summer), the plane would still have to taxi, park and unload the passengers. The passengers would need to get their luggage (it is a family, not a day-tripper), wait for the shuttle, and actually get to the car.

I picture three more realistic scenarios. First, the heater runs from the battery and the battery is dead after being used for 90 minutes without starting the car. Second, the remote actually starts the car and uses up a quarter tank of gas waiting for the people. The father then says to the family that the next time they can freeze; he isn’t spending $25 because they can’t wait two minutes for the seat warmers to start working. Third, someone sees the car running, takes it, and is gone for an hour before the family even realizes it’s missing.

All of this is crossing my mind on the way to work this morning. Once I was actually on the road this morning. Like many of you, we were hit by the storm yesterday. My husband was proactive and tried to clear things as the day went by. Unfortunately, what he could not foresee was how windy it would be overnight. And the two- or three-foot drifts the wind would create.

I do not own a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. The weather here really isn’t that bad. We are on the “good” side of Lake Huron. The moisture from Lake Michigan gets dumped over the west side of Michigan in storms, so the air is relatively dry by the time it gets here, so we get less wind and snow. We still complain.

After the storms leave here, they cross Lake Huron and get more moisture to dump on Ontario. By the time the storm reaches upstate New York, it has gone over the rest of the Great Lakes and they get the benefit of lots of moisture in the air. Which often means they get a lot of snow. If you watch pro football or hockey from Buffalo, you may have noticed the commentators seem to get a lot of pleasure telling us what bad weather they are surviving. In their heated broadcast booth.

We figured my biggest worry would be whether or not they cleared the road by the time I left at 4a. I got up and went out. The road didn’t look too bad (relatively speaking). I should have known there would be a problem when I went down our steps and sank into snow up to my thighs. I’m short, but not that short. I should have been able to walk through snow that had been shoveled shortly before we went to bed.

Ever the optimist, I went into the garage. Second bad sign: my car had been out for maybe two minutes yesterday while my husband got out the snowblower. I had to brush off the back and side windows. There was no indication whatsoever that it had been inside for more than 12 hours.

The engine turned over, and the heater whined (it really hates cold weather). I backed up to where the hood cleared the garage door. And got stuck. Started swearing. Looked for the shovel and couldn’t find it. Stomped upstairs and woke up my husband. Oh yeah – he keeps it on the inside porch so it will be convenient. Stomp back downstairs. Trip in the drift again.

Shovel out the wheels. Move a little. Shovel under the body. Don’t move. Shovel around the tires. Move a little. Shovel more. Create ice under the tires. Try to rock back and forth. Swear. Shovel. Move a little. I should probably mention that our house is set off the road a ways and the driveway is double width, so I’m not completely incompetent (yet).

Shovel. Can’t move. Straighten wheels. Move a little. See the light in the house. Husband is up for work. Stomp back in. Whine. He comes out (and trips in the drift). Five minutes later the car is on the road and ready to go. I apologize for being evil. He blames the snow. He’s good that way.

On the way, my brain keeps running “Jingle Bells”. ‘Oh what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.’ Yeah. With a wind chill somewhere around zero (it’s gotten worse since). But a horse isn’t a bad idea. One of those big Budweiser horses. It could have pulled my car out of the snow in a couple of minutes.

If you have ever needed road-side assistance in a storm, you know you could starve to death before they get to you.This is not a function of their ineptitude but of demand greatly exceeding supply (finally – a use for my econ class). I bet my son could make money using the horse to help other people. Or he could entertain kids by taking them for rides. I bet parents would pay to get the kids out of the house for a bit on a snow-day. Or their spouses.

I wonder how much it would cost to keep a horse like that. They’re probably expensive. Maybe I’ll try to sell the idea to someone in Buffalo.