A few weeks ago I came across a car stuck in a bank of snow. We’d gotten snow earlier in the week, but this was a warm, 35 ̊ day. Streets were clear, snow had even begun to melt on the sidewalks. The sky was blue, the sun was warm, the wind was almost nonexistent. Obviously this was the kind of day for a thick sweater, Converse sneakers, and no coat.
I took advantage of the unseasonably warm day by loading my car full of items to be donated at the Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch Thrift Store and flattened cardboard boxes for recycling. The emergency snow supplies we keep in our car through the winter – including a small shovel and work gloves were buried beneath the pile. This was not the kind of day I expected to need those things.
I loaded my sons into their car seats and set off. At the top of the 6th St hill, near Jim Hill Middle School, I saw the car in the snow.
I slowed to see if someone had already stopped to help and noticed the car was surrounded by several teenage girls – most wearing maroon Minot High hoodies. Another woman was there helping – maybe one of the girls’ mothers, I wasn’t sure. I pulled over and told the boys I was going to get out to see if I could help. They were happy in their seats, singing along to the Veggie Tales CD my husband got when he was a teenager – probably the age of the girls standing in the snow now. Life seems to change so quickly.
The car was at an angle in a front yard, the front wheels stuck in the snow. “Hi, there. Do you need help, or do you have it covered?” I asked.
The woman had her phone to her ear, but answered me anyway, “I’m just trying to call someone to bring a shovel. Then I think we’ll be okay.”
“Oh, I’ve got a shovel we can use. Let me grab it.”
We walked together to my car where I opened the hatch and narrowly avoided an avalanche of donation bins and cardboard while I wrenched the shovel and gloves from under the stack. After confirming the boys were still okay, I went with the woman to the car.
The girls had obviously been trying to get out for a while. Friction from spinning the wheels in failed attempts at dislodging the car had turned the snow into wells of ice. I passed off the shovel and gloves, then went back to my car to pass out snacks. After a few minutes I returned to the other car to help push – with no success.
“If we had some cardboard or something we could slide under the wheels maybe that would help,” the woman said.
“I’ve got that, too!” I told her. Moments later I was back with several options. I may not wear a coat, but I am prepared.
By this time, my kids were truly restless. I left the shovel and gloves and told the group I was going to run a couple quick errands and come back. Fifteen minutes later, my hatch was empty – but their car was still stuck. Now, another truck had stopped with a chain to tow them out.
I got out to collect my things. “Thank you so much. I know we didn’t get it out, but thanks for trying,” one of the girls said.
“It’s no problem,” I told her. “Who hasn’t been on the receiving end of a friendly push at least once in their life?”
As I drove home to the soundtrack of Larry the Cucumber’s Silly Songs, I thought about how true that statement was. I’ve been stuck, unable to get my car up the 3rd Street hill. I’ve hit a patch of ice on a curve and bounced off a curb. Once I even got stuck in a pile of snow on Main Street from the snow plow.
It was dark by the time I came out of Margie’s to find my car immobile. In less than three minutes, two men walking past stopped and pushed me out. When I voiced my thanks, they told me much the same thing I told the girls: pushing each other out of the snow is part of what we do here.
No, I wasn’t the hero who pushed the car out. But I keep thinking about that day. Isn’t it lovely to be in a position to push instead of needing the push? Isn’t it lovely to live in a town where it’s safe to need help and safe to stop and offer it? Isn’t it lovely to live in a place where looking out for each other is the norm?
The arrival of spring is a joy – but a special comradery is forged in winter. Without the adversity of winter, the Magic City would lack this sort of deep magic that only takes root in the snow.