Sunday nights are family nights for us, especially during sugaring season. So after an afternoon of running from tree to tree, or from counter to canner, we clean up equipment and head from the Sugar House to the Supper House, so dubbed by my oldest, back when he was just a little guy. There we talk our way from the kitchen to the dining room gather round the table to feast on food and stories from the present to the past, and tonight was just one of those nights.
Somehow an exchange took place right at the table that involved knocking on wood, (my oldest son's head was the wood of choice) then a knocking on engineered wood, (my oldest nephew, the engineer's head) Of course posturing occurred first from the engineer something like, "Engineered wood is stronger, more versatile, and highly adaptable. . ." then my eleven year old chimed in, "And Thicker!" Laughter burst out from all of us adults, then the kids too, probably at us adults.
We revisited the comical moment earlier that day when another nephew phoned mom to see "Am I still on AAA?", "Do you know my number by any chance?" Turns out it was a flat tire, but he had no spare. He has found his card and was in good shape now. That reminded Uncle and Auntie about Auntie's flat tire dilemma this fall. After one tire shredded itself into pieces, all she had was a "space saver" spare, flat of course, and she was in a dead zone with no cell service. Luckily a policeman stopped and called AAA for her. She spent the next couple hours waiting all four tires to be replaced, and arrived at her final destination 4-5 hours later than planned.
Then I chimed in, "I had several flats when commuting to North Adams, but every time I was wearing a dress! What a pain!" I thought of that day when I saw that snow chunk in the road too late, and it turned out to be not a snowball at all, sharp ice or more likely a sharp rock fallen from the ledge the road was cut from. I had just crested the top of the mountain and headed down out of the last little wisp of a town into beautiful stretch of curves cut through rock that followed a mountain stream and was overshadowed by tree covered cliffs. Luckily I was able to pull over tires crunching on the gravelly turnaround, there weren't many safe places to stop on this road, since many who traveled this path felt it made a lovely raceway. It was cold, and I recall thinking, "Of all the days to be wearing a dress and heels" and I began to recount my adventure. . .
I was not to be deterred, I had no cell back then-- no service there anyway, but my boyfriend (now husband) made sure I knew how to change a flat, though I hadn't actually done it before, I headed to open the hatch and lift the carpet where the spare and tools for the job were hidden. I got busy jacking up the car, then realized, "Crap this lug wrench is full of ice! Now what?" so I thought, smacked the wrench on the ground to see if the ice would come out. . .it didn't. . . and thought some more. Then, Babing! I knew what to do, I got back in the car, started the engine and got back out, walked around to the tailpipe and held the lugwrench by the hot exhaust to melt. In just a couple minutes I was in business, except I had to let the car down again so I could loosen the lugnuts, they don't loosen easily when the tire is spinning, and I was cussing myself out for my foolishness, when I saw it, and my heart skipped a beat. A black windowless van coming around the corner and sweeping in to the turnaround. I froze for what I hoped was an imperceptible moment and continued at my task.
Out of the van stepped a man with longish graying hair, reminded me a little of Sam Eliot, he offered to help. I suppose I could have said "no" at this point, I had it almost under control, but I let him finish the task I started, and knew I would have a tale to tell someday. He remarked at my good luck that it happened near this one turnaround, I babbled about my iced lugwrench fix, while he worked and it wasn't long before we were both on our way, "Bye, thank you for helping." "No problem, drive safe." I wonder if he ever tells a story at Sunday dinner, of a damsel in distress, in skirt and heels, who had a flat on this dangerous stretch of road on a cold winter day. . .