Monday, January 9, 2012

Our First Snow of the Season

I have lived a lot of places during my childhood and over the course of getting my education, and then once again, in seeking the best jobs during career building. It was a relief to finally choose somewhere based on where we wanted to live and on what might be a good place to raise our children. This is how we arrived in Virginia. Virginia is an interesting state. It has four defined seasons. The Summer is too hot for me, but suits many people just fine. The Springs are glorious but very short. Autumn is probably loveliest here than almost anywhere......OK..... Nova Scotia also has some amazing Autumn days too. Winter is interesting here. Most years it is much milder than the Winters of the Northeast, and yet it comes. Some years there are a few snowstorms. A couple of years we have actually be snowed in for a few days. Most dreaded are ice storms which can not only leave the power out for as long as a week, but can made travel of any kind by car, impossible. In the Northeast, most people eventually gather some proficiency driving in snow, slush and ice. Because we have so little of it in Virginia, fewer people are truly proficient, and this makes driving here in storms even more hazardous than it would ordinarily be. Also, in many counties, very little money is allocated for snow removal, and so snow remains on secondary roads longer than it might in the Northeast. A few years ago we had a storm in which lots of fluffy wet snow fell. I was delighted as I took each of our kids whom I had taught to drive, to a large but empty paved church parking lot. I had them practice turns, braking, careless stops etc. in order to get some idea of the skills and touch on necessary driving in snow. They did really well.  It is an excellent idea for drivers who are unfamiliar with driving in snow to practice a little in it, in a place without deep ditches.  Remember to do everything firmly and slowly to avoid uncontrolled skids.  
As a reminder to most of you, there are some things you should have in your car in Winter. Travel with a bagged blanket for use in the event that you are stranded, possibly overnight. Bring a cellphone despite the fact that in many rural US areas, there are  insufficient celltowers in order for them to work reliably. You just never know when they will or will not. Consider an emergency CB radio if you are extremely rural. You should carry water, emergency and snack food, a car first aid kit, and anything else you would like to have if you were stranded in your car overnight. I have a friend who has a 9 volt small kettle she boils water in for tea and instant coffee from her car cigarette lighter plug.  I keep a small gas can, along with jumper cables and a very compact car repair kit. I keep a small container of kitty litter to place around tires should I get stuck, and an excellent foldable shovel.  I also have an emergency rubberized poncho which is bright yellow. If you put effort into packing your different kits, they can be fairly small, and can hide pretty unobstrusively in a trunk.
Winter has begun here.  I hope that it's a pleasant one where you are.

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