Those of you who have visited know that there are two driveway entrances to the farm we rent from the SS 73, the state road that passes through the middle of the farm.
This is the short one that we use when going in the direction of Siena. Now, remember this picture. We will come back to it.
A note of explanation for those of you who don’t know me. I HATE snow. I do not like to drive in it. I do not like to be in it. In North Carolina any snow fall greater than10 flakes a minute was enough to close schools, government and most everything else. I spent so many years in Carolina that I adopted that attitude. Snow or the threat of snow should be treated the same as a hurricane. Before the storm, massive supplies (i.e. MUCH beer and wine along with tuna, hot dogs, Cheetos and Krispy Kreme doughnuts) should be procured and it was time to hunker down and ride out the storm. That is the way I treat snow here.
Friday, December 17 it snowed here. And just like last year’s big December snow we were in Arezzo grocery shopping when it started. This year, before the snow started it had been below freezing for almost 3 days. The ground was frozen. As soon as it snowed it stuck!
Last year when this same situation occurred we could not make it up the hill from Monte San Savino and had to call our neighbor Alessio to rescue us. This year even though it was just as bad I was determined not to let that happen again. We left Arezzo and made it safely to MSS. Started out of MSS and unlike last year we did not have to stop and loose momentum for a car that had slid off the road. Like that bunny we kept on going and going. With great fortitude and personal strength (I really am not sure where I found it, but the fact that I had a large supply of fizzy pink wine in the car may have been an influence. IN THE CAR, not in me, but waiting for me) we continued on. Unlike last year, the plow was out. At the curve in the road where there is a turn for Bano, we met the snowplow coming from the oncoming direction (Siena). However, there was not bare pavement by any means. Still by driving on the wrong side of the road (the plowed side) I was able to continue on, a little easier. Now Ben had been very quite through all of this but started to point out when a car was coming towards us and that I really would have to return to my lane.
Ben was being very patient and had not snapped at me. I had not snapped at him. We were doing very well until he claimed that I put on the turn signal for our drive too soon. Could not believe it when he said that! First of all we were less than 50 feet from the drive when I put it on and secondly in that weather any and every other car on the road needs to know if someone is about to turn. Anyway, we got to the drive which has a hill up it and then a slight turn where it levels off, a long stretch that gently goes down hill and then a turn and a tight fit between two trees, a straight stretch, another tight fit between two trees, another curve and long gentle uphill stretch and then the last turn into where the car is parked. (Sort of an inverted U shape) As we entered the drive, Ben said “Gun it!” Still irritated that he had said I put the turn signal on too soon, I gunned it! We made it up the hill, I started to turn, realized I had very little control of the car, tried braking, lost even more control, by this point we are going down hill and rapidly approaching the next turn to go between the first set of tight fit trees or missing the turn and going into the bushes. I pulled the parking brake and we ground to a halt just shy of the bushes. About where I was standing when I took the above picture.
Relieved that I had gotten us at least in the drive, I turned to Ben and announced brightly, “Well, we’re home.” He just glared. I got the idea that he didn’t fancy walking the rest of the way to the house. We still were not that close and even in very good weather it would take Ben at least 5 minutes to walk that distance. Adding in the driving, almost blinding snow and cold it was not an activity that I was looking forward to either. Only one wheel of the car was in the driveway track. The other three were in grass, covered with snow. After much spinning, backing, spinning, sliding, Ben got out and used his powers of persuasion to get the car moving so that all four wheels were on the track. With only a minor amount more of slipping we made it to the house. And who was there to greet us? Elizabetta! I could just see what was going through her mind…."I’m so glad you’re back. Did you buy food for me? Did you see that car down there sliding around in the drive? I just about laughed my tail off. Oh, that wasn’t you was it?”
We unpacked groceries. I chilled pink, fizzy wine just by setting it outside. We hunkered down and rode out the storm. The snow finally stopped late on Friday. Probably about 3 to 4 inches. I could hear the plows and salt trucks. By mid-day Saturday the SS 73 was clear. All that stood between us and going somewhere was a quarter mile of winding snow and ice covered drive. By Monday it had warmed up and melting had started. A little before noon, Ben and I decided to try to make the trip out. We got down the hill, through the first set of trees and then the second and started up the gentle incline but got nowhere. After much sliding and backing and forthing, we were totally mired in the exact spot that we had gotten stuck in on Friday afternoon. The exact spot where I stood to take the picture that is above.
I took that picture in November to send to the guys who own the house. Of the 30 days in November, I think it rained at least 20 if not 25 of those days. Evidently, when it rains that much, water must back up out onto the SS 73 there at the apron of the driveway. The highway maintenance folks came along and dug this 6” deep, 12 “ wide ditch. That pretty well took care of the problem. Water doesn’t stand on the highway there any more. But it also means that we can’t use that entrance. I can remember when I first saw it I thought, “Oh man! What now?” And a month later, stuck in the same spot we had been stuck in 3 days earlier, Ben and I turned to each other and said, “Well, what now?” “You know if they hadn’t screwed up the driveway we could have just slide out that way.”
I had not done anything to fix the drive because our neighbor Alessio pointed out that if I raised a fuss it was possible that we could be fined or forced to put in some expensive permanent concrete and pipe drainage solution. And we don’t use that entrance that much, but there are sometimes when it is just nice to have. Monday would have been one of those days.
Ben and I tromped back up to the house. And who was there but Elizabetta! “Oh, you’re back already! Did you buy me food? Look some more fools are stuck down there in the drive again! Oh,… was that you?”
A little while later I saw her twirling around the ice rink (formerly know as the driveway) on her zamboni. She looked very Christmasy with her knitted red and green hat and scarf. The white ice skates set off her black fur too. She wasn’t pleased when I took an ax to the 4 inch thick groomed ice. But we finally made it out of the drive.