Friars Hill Traffic Report By Sarah Mansheim Managing Editor • Mountain Messenger

Well, it’s all over now.

The leaves peaked this past week; the colors were vivid oranges and yellows, and they were so beautiful that when you got home, you wanted to turn the car around and drive around some more. On Sunday morning, the wind blew so hard that, as we looked out the kitchen windows, my husband remarked that it looked like it was snowing leaves.

The view from our home last week was all coppers and golds. After this week, it’ll be all light gray and brown, cloudy with a chance of flurries.

Winter in Friars Hill is a challenge. Snowstorms, four wheel drive, emergency firewood and propane deliveries, and a little fender bender here and there are just a part of our daily lives. Every winter that I’ve lived here, I’ve had at least one day when I’ve said, That’s It. I’ve had enough.

Once, that happened when I almost drove off the side of the mountain in 18 inches of snow. Another time, it happened after I realized, about four miles from my house, that I was driving on a quarter inch of ice. I’d slowly, gingerly parked my car on the shoulder and gotten out, thinking I would walk home. I made it about five feet when, suddenly, I became absolutely stranded on the ice, stuck in the middle of the road, unable to walk back to my car. I just stood there, looking around for someone to come rescue me. Finally, I got the courage to waddle back to my car, my arms and legs thrust wide to keep my balance.

The same thing happened once in my driveway. I am a walking bag lady, always carrying a purse, a gym bag, a lunch bag and a thermos of coffee every time I go in or out of the office. When I got stranded in my driveway I was laden down with all my day’s necessities. I was just about five feet from the front door, and about three feet from the car, and I knew I couldn’t take another step without something to hold onto. I stood there, in the twilight of morning, the ground a sheet of ice below me.

“Toooooooooommmmm!” I cried back to the house. “Help me get to my car!”

He came out, clad in jeans, fleece and work boots, and slowly waddled over to me.

“Here, give me your gym bag,” he said.

“I can’t! It’ll throw me off balance if I take it off!” I cried.

Another time, knowing that the driveway was slick, I asked Tom to walk me out and to carry my gym bag to the car for me. I charged out the door in front of him and Boom! I was on my back before I knew it, my lungs in my stomach and my breath frozen above me. The motion sensor light shined down on my body, splayed on the ice as coffee spilled all around me, melting the ice. Tom stood in the light of the doorway.

“You okay?”

“Yeah,” I whimpered. “I think I’m calling in late today.”

What will this winter bring? Will this be the year that I bite the dust for real? Will I crash over the mountainside? Total my car? Will the pipes freeze? Will we run out of wood and propane when there’s three feet of snow on the ground, and we won’t be able to get out, and we’ll have to burn our all our furniture to keep warm?

At what point, this winter, will I throw up my hands in disgust, grab a real estate guide and start shopping for a house down South? When will I have had enough? Will it be after I’ve fallen on the way to the car? Or dropped a bag of groceries in the snow, spilling eggs down the driveway? Will it be on a morning so cold that my front door is frozen shut and my car won’t start?

By next March, my bags will be packed for Florida because it will have just snowed again, and the wind will be gusting and my brittle heart will be utterly broken, frozen, stranded on the ice. Oh, but then, the sun will shine and the snow will melt just a bit, and maybe, a tree will begin to bud. Only then, I’ll think, okay, just give it a little more time. Spring is just around the corner.



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