An Old Lady’s Song of the Open Road

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops a cabbage in winter.“The roads are open. Let’s do dinner and the opera,” my neighbor announced.
“Well, MY weather app still says ALERT, Winter Storm Watch, and Weather Advisory in effect,” I said, immovable like an old cabbage in winter, lodged comfortably in its patch.

“The weather advisory is over,” she said, desperate to get out after two snow-days stuck in her apartment.
“We’ll never get out of the driveway. There’s a huge mountain of snow where it meets the road. And I don’t know when the guy’s gonna plow.” She and another neighbor then began shoveling the 2500-foot long driveway we share. I stayed inside wondering if we weren’t all just begging for heart attacks with all this restlessness and shoveling.

“So, will you go?” she asked, all red and steamy from working in the snow.
“But the roads, the travel alert. Nothing’s been plowed yet.” I went on and on.
“I have four-wheel-drive,” she said, smiling smugly.

We threw my snow shovel in the backseat. In case. And we held our breaths as the car clambered through deep snow that hid the driveway’s hills and holes. Inching out onto the road, I checked my seatbelt. And suddenly it was as if the car was flying towards town. We sailed the slushy deserted streets in search of an open restaurant. And in the almost empty theater, we giggled, “See, all the OLD people stayed home.”

For hours, I was transported back to the times in my 20s and 30s, when adventure overpowered any fears, and a storm watch was an invitation to take off and go who-knows-where. Like Walt Whitman’s poem: Afoot and light-hearted, I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me…. I was back in the good old days before I became a cabbage in winter.

Later, when we returned, the roads and shared driveway had been plowed. My neighbor parked the car and handed me the shovel from out of the back. Laughing like we’d gotten away with stealing something, like we’d conquered something bigger than ourselves, we said goodnight several times.

It was late. Dark. The small mountain of snow by the garage could wait ‘til morning. But the shovel was already in my hands. Digging it in deep, I lifted and tossed chunky piles of snow over my shoulder. High. Like in the good old days.

 

When’s the last time you ventured out in a storm? Or took to the open road? When’s the last time you felt lighthearted, healthy, and free?

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5 thoughts on “An Old Lady’s Song of the Open Road

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    I happily stayed home in that snowstorm for 2 1/2 days. I’m getting so old that it’s enough to just go out to the porch to haul in firewood and load the stove. I feel more like a mushroom than a cabbage. Loved reading this story of friendship and local adventure.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Good thing we have our dogs. 2 1/2 days alone is really a feat. Hauling firewood? You’ve more energy than I. I’d have simply curled up in an electric blanket with my dog. And then if the electric power disappeared – well, I’d be stuck. Crying helplessly in the cold. Definitely a cabbage, me. But yes, I do have my neighbor now. Sometimes it takes having a friend nearby to find your brave parts.

      Reply
  2. Lynne Taetzsch

    I tried to get out in that snowstorm, Robin, but there was no way I could shovel enough of the snow! And I do have a brother who died of a heart attack after shoveling. I didn’t get out until noon of the third day–and still had a lot to shovel.

    What a wonderful neighbor you have!

    I do remember one winter storm in Ithaca in the 1970’s when all the roads were closed. My partner and I took that as an opportunity to drive to town, buy a bunch of food, and have a dinner party for everyone in the neighborhood.

    Reply
  3. Lucy Bergstrom

    This is totally invigorating! What a great neighbor you have, who would shovel out your snow mountain for you and then spirit you away from snowbound security! It made you feel young – Marika must have been cheering you on.

    Reply
    1. Robin Botie Post author

      Well, Luce. As I mentioned, she was desperate. Nothing was going to hold her back once she learned that the theater was still open. That’s what happens when you love opera. OMG you do anything to go see something you’ve seen and/or heard a hundred times before. It was so bad out that evening, I think even Marika would have been cringing.

      Reply

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