Trudy Andrew | Canadian Author

Tails From the Farm

A Slippery Slope

The girlchild bought me something, at the suggestion of her father … sneakers. Not just any sneakers, mens sneakers with cleats. Why would she think this a good idea? Because her mother, me, is a klutz. If I can run into, trip over, or slip on ‘it’, I will. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is, ‘it’ will create problems for me. This is the code of the klutz. Let me tell you, why a pair of oversized mens cleated runners, would help me.
Though I live in a country where snow and ice are present for several months every year, I’ve been known to do what we fondly call, wipe out. One particular wipeout, stands out in my memory. To say it stands out, is a titch ironic. As it turned out, standing was the problem, or to be precise, walking was a bit of a problem.
Picture the scene. To go to the backyard and tend to the horses, there were two choices. Follow the driveway that circumvents the buildings, or cut between the buildings, which is the shortest route, depending on the destination. The route between the buildings, can be fraught with peril. You see, buildings tend to collect snow on their roofs, and snow doesn’t stay up there. It’s too heavy, and must be removed before it causes collapse. The quonset however, usually sheds snow build up, without our assistance. It slides off in noisy, little avalanches, right onto the pathway that runs the whole length of the steel, arch-ribbed building. Though a nice, wide path is kept clean, some snow always remains. The sun, even on freezing cold Manitoba wintry day, has the ability to melt snow into ice. Treacherous, oh so slippery ice that seems to be the last thing to melt away, come spring. This wasn’t spring. This was the middle of winter. A winter with a mix of much snow, bitter cold, and slightly warmer days. Where bright sunshine focused weak, winter rays, against the metal building and melted the snow. Melted snow in winter, is water for an extremely short time. Within seconds, any melt freezes into ice, smooth, very slippery ice. Of course, the shorter, more hazardous route is the one I chose this fateful day.
Weighted down by two, five-gallon pails of warm water, I headed out to water horses. The day was very sunny, and very, very cold. It was the sort of day where the tip of your nose instantly froze, and your eyes water from the cold as well as the sunshine reflecting up from sparkling white snow. There are times that sparkle isn’t a strong enough word. The effect dazzles and blinds. A gorgeous sight, yet bitterly cold at the same time.
There were a few icy patches between the house and garage, more between the garage and barn, but it was the long stretch beside the quonset that was most risky. Thick and innocently stretching before me with a dull gleam that belied just how slippery it was, it lured me forward with the promise of a quicker path. I had left the rest of the crew in the warmth of the house, watching a movie. The movie didn’t interest me, but curling up in a cozy chair and working on my novel did, hot chocolate near to hand, of course. The sooner I was done, the sooner I could get back to it. As soon as I began to shuffle forward, mincing my steps to keep my balance, I was reminded of why it was a foolish idea to go this way. Not only was it really difficult, to keep ones balance on the slippery surface, there was a bit of a slope as well. Still, it was the shortest route between A and B, and I carried on.
About the same time I was regretting my decision, the combination of slippery and slope decided to do me in. One second, I was gingerly mincing along with my Manitoba, winter shuffle. The next I was sprawled flat on my back, warm water spreading all around.
Ow, I mean really, really ow. I hurt. I hurt all over. I wondered if, I had done myself actual damage. What if I’d broken something? What then?
“Help,” I gave it a go, “help. Somebody help me.”
Of course, there was no one to hear. They were all in the house, the warm house, under cozy blankets with hot drinks, fully absorbed by the movie. No one would hear me. But then again, one might possibly wonder where I was, what was keeping me so long, and come out to check. It was possible. Not possible, and not likely to happen. By the time anyone thought to check, my lifeless body, would be frozen to the ground. No one was coming to help me.
Peeling myself off the ice, moaning and whimpering just a tad, as the situation warranted it, I gingerly checked to see what worked. Though pain shot through and through, joints bent and I could move. Not about to try walking on the ice, I crawled back to the beginning, dragging my empty pails along with me. With great, superhuman effort, I dragged my sorry self upright, then gingerly made my way back to the house.
There they were, just as I thought they’d be, fully engrossed with the movie. Standing there in the doorway to the livingroom, I stared at them and wide-eyed with surprised amusement, they looked back.
“What on earth happened to you?”
He who I am married to asks, not even attempting to hide his laughter at the sight of disheveled me, “Fall down go boom?”
‘Butthead,” I respond while taking in the expressions, “I could be dead out there, and nobody would come check.”
“If you’re already dead,” his grin grew, because he does think he’s funny, “then there’s no hurry, is there?”
“Buttheads, a family of buttheads,” I grumbled as a limped away to get out of soaked clothing. The only one who was concerned and at all guilty feeling was the girlchild. She quickly refilled the pails then went out to water.
From that day forward, there were all sorts of odd additions to footwear that appeared in the porch. Spiked things to attach to winter footwear for walking on ice, things that appeared excellent in concept, but proved to be more of a nuisance than a help.
Now years later, our favourite, random stuff store, had cleated shoes amongst the tools and other heavy duty offerings. Hubby suggested to sweetpea that they might work for me, and as I can’t wear heavy, winter boots, they’d be perfect with a couple pairs of heavy socks. At just over ten bucks, they were a great deal, too.
Now we wait for winter. Make no mistake about it, I’m in no hurry for winter, but I think they’ll work.

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About Trudy Andrew

Trudy Andrew lives on a small farm just east of Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she enjoys her Morgan horses. A dreamer since she was a child, its no surprise to those who know her well that her imagination would find an outlet in writing, as it has in the past through artwork.
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 Oakbank, MB