Gracefully gliding to a new position

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There was no good reason for it to happen. I wasn’t driving especially fast, we don’t currently have ice or snow and the road surface wasn’t seriously wet, and no I was not talking on my cell phone. (Or texting. I’m not suicidal.) But there’s this curve in the road just before you turn off onto the gravel road leading to our house and, well, I didn’t quite make it.

So there I was, after a quite graceful slide, nose down in a ditch. We’ve had a lot of rain lately, so the tires promptly settled snugly into mud.

It looked nothing like this. (Picture from Car Talk)

It looked nothing like this. (Picture from Car Talk)

The whole situation was more embarrassing than anything else. I called Himself to bring the truck, and phoned a friend to keep myself occupied while I waited.

After a while a car drove by, slowed, then drove on. “Well phooey to you too,” I thought. But a few minutes later a car came along from the opposite direction and pulled up, and out popped one of our neighbors.

I should mention that some of our neighbors are … unsavory. We live on the outskirts of a medium-sized town, in an area where the properties range from around three to 10 acres. Some of the folk here are farmers, mostly raising cattle or hay. And then there are the others, who have lived out here since before anyone cared. One family in particular – the ones who live right where we turn off onto our private road and drive off the map – includes several felons and their wimmin and their brood, all clustered in a falling-down house, and they spend a fair amount of time (when they’re not in prison) making huge fires in their back yard and sitting around them and just being creepy. Sometimes they shoot things.

When I drive past I’ll flick a wave, just to be friendly (and by way of insurance), but what I’m actually thinking is this…

What our neighbors' house makes me think. (Pic from Dollar Photo Club)

What my brain tells me about our neighbors. (Pic from Dollar Photo Club)

So, okay, the only time I’ve ever actually seen any of them looking like that was a few years ago when I drove past just as they opened up a freshly killed steer carcass that they had strung up in their back yard. But memories like that tend to stay with you.

Anyway, the neighbor who got out of the car that pulled up next to where I was waiting, trapped in the ditch? He wasn’t one of the farmers. He came from that house.

On the other hand, he actually looked rather a lot like this…

This could be my neighbor (only this evening he didn't have a fish).

This could be my neighbor. (Only this evening he didn’t have a fish.) (Not that I saw, anyway.) (Pic from “A River Runs Through It“).

Maybe a little blonder, but that’s him, right down to the smile. And once he’d ascertained that I was okay, and didn’t need him to fetch his pickup or call an ambulance, and had verified that I was too stuck to drive out of the ditch, he just hung on out there and kept me company until Himself arrived. He told me that the person who had driven past was his wife, but she was too scared to stop so she sent him out to me instead. “She finds it pretty scary, living out here,” he commented. “I’ve lived here all my life, and I like it, being out of town.”

Then one of his buddies showed up – and ja, he was pretty stoned, but friendly and wanting to help. Soon after that Himself arrived, and the two young guys hooked the chain up to our pickup, and a few minutes later I popped out of that ditch as easy as a champagne cork coming out of a bottle.

I’ll swing by tomorrow with some steaks (I haven’t seen them butchering anything for a while) and a malva pudding. Because when you choose to live out in the boondocks, usually that’s partly because you don’t want people in your pocket all the time – but good neighbors are still worth nurturing.

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About Belladonna Took

Into my second half-century and still trying to figure out what to be when I grow up. Born South African, naturalized American, at constant risk of losing my balance and landing ass-first in the Atlantic. A wife, a mom, a daughter and sister, kind of a grandma. Until recently a full-time dog rescuer, now more concerned with rescuing myself. User of dog hair as accessory, decor and garnish. Technical writer, strategic thinker, occasional entrepreneur. Voiceless poet and storyteller. Born again Christ-follower and former missionary schoolteacher chewing on some uncomfortable questions. Ignorer of rules, challenger of assumptions, believer in miracles. Skeptical libertarian, equal opportunity despiser of politicians and assholes. Gonnabe gardener, wannabe beekeeper, Monsanto-hating tree-hugger. Morbidly obese chocaholic, with a horse I don't ride because I might break him, and if not he would probably break me.

6 responses »

    • What particularly touched me about this incident wasn’t just that he was available to offer practical help, but that even when he realized I was fine and help was on its way, he stuck around just to keep me company. He didn’t make a big deal about it, he was just there. It was pretty cool.

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    • It really seems that the family members now living on the property are trying to clean up the family image. When I stopped by with brownies (one day I will share my truly amazing brownie recipe) and steaks, the kids came out and demanded to know, “What’s in the bag?” I said, “Hmmm … something yummy. What do you think?” The oldest boy announced, “I think it’s brownies!” (which, of course, made me very happy – I’d have hated him to be wrong.) I suggested he stick his nose in the bag and see if he was right, and as I drove off he had his entire head in the bag while the other two jostled for their turn. Really funny…lol.

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  1. Cool story. It’s nice to know that you don’t necessarily have to be what you come from. 🙂

    As for your crash, I think what probably happened – and do correct me if I’m wrong – is that you hit wet leaves, mud or simply a sufficiently deep puddle and entered a state of terminal understeer. If you reacted to this state by slamming on the brakes or turning harder, you made it worse.

    If you have the time and inclination, I’d recommend you find the nearest local autocross and take a spin. Autocrosses are fun, safe and great for learning car control.

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