On the drive back from the Inyo Canyons, in one day, we found ourselves dealing with gusty winds, a snow storm and a rain storm before the day was out. The Wind, The Snow & The Rain – Part 2.
We were now stuck in a snow storm. The highway men had come and swapped the rustic freeway sign to ‘Snow Chains Required’ and left. We had snow chains and I supposed they worked.
By the time we had pulled out the snow chains, we were covered with snow. Our brains were exhorting the toes to wiggle but there was no inclination from the toes to w. Miss-tle-toe for you. The nose was thirty degrees below freezing point. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer anyone? Ours had turned a lovely boysenberry color and had a reindeer been about would gladly have chomped off our noses. We peered into the snow chain package. The husband beamed like a snowman with a crooked twig for a smile and said he had opened the case prior to leaving in a rare state of prescience. I gave him the my-hero look and fumbled for the instruction manual. There it was: in 8 easy steps, it laid out how to install snow chains.
Take clip, Clasp to the tire, Move to opposite side of tire, Do something on the side of the tire facing the inside of the car, Take clip and clasp to the tire, Rotate the chain under the tire and, Clasp, Click
It looked easy enough to do on a sunny day with our garage door open, some music in the background and no car on top. But the instructions seemed to have completely missed the car on top of the tires in the pictures. One look at the tires, the snow, our freezing hands, and the car on top of it was enough. There are times when we look competent, and times when we don’t. This was one of those times when we were not. Looking c I mean.
It is at moments like this that the husband really comes into his own. While I was fumbling with the instructions, he was gone. One second, I was oh-see-this-ing to him and the next moment, I was oh-see-this-ing to a sympathetic looking fir tree. He bolted like a hare into the tavern conveniently located on the opposite side of the road, and came back with an eminently more competent looking chap from the pub. The cherubic fellow rubbed his hands together and said he could help. ‘I have done snow tires before, but you really should try it out once you know. ‘ he said plainly putting a decent face to his thoughts.
In less than ten minutes, the chap had installed the snow chains. I clasped his hands with gratitude looking like a dying duck who had just been given a new lease of life. I quacked on to thank him effusively and went so far as to call him a brother in need. The daughter, keen as always, asked me why I said that since she was not sure her Anand Maama would be any help with installing snow chains even if he had been in the car. A fair point.
There is something grandiose about snow chains. I suppose emperors frequently feel this way once they wear their crowns. They get a swagger, a dangerous over-confidence. The snow chains were the crowns to the tires, and off we went all smiles, confidence and swagger.
Post snow chains, in about 43 seconds, we found the car doing the reindeer-magic-mushroom sequence again with renewed vigor and whim. The car was not just mobile but intent on being perpendicular to the road and spinning a good 180 degrees.
Nature had not even shown her fury, and there we were spinning on highways, making boysenberry jelly with our noses, playing mistletoe with our toes, and wondering whether we would be able to get out – snow tires or not, before nightfall. In what is a miracle,after about an hour in which a child tumbling could have overtaken us, we emerged into the rain and not an ounce of snow. It was as if they were different worlds.
As we were fumbling on the roadside in the rain to take the snow chains off, a brilliant red fire truck pulled up behind us, and the firemen helped us out smiling and chatting amiably all the while. We did the dying-duck-thank-sequence, and off we went on our way driving in the pouring rain.
In one day, we had whipped past gusty, gale-like winds, glided helplessly in a snow storm and thundered through a heavy rain storm. The bright blue skies had turned grey and murky to ink blue and thunderous all in the span of a few hours.
We tottered into the house for a hastily made rasam and rice, and sighed like octogenarians with our feet in front of the heater that there was no place like home.