Winter Blanket

Winter Blanket

It was a blanket, no more.
Just four inches of snow, but even less
has had my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel
as winds off the lake buffeted my trailer
at the crest of the Skyway crossing the Buffalo River.

Winter, always my least favorite season
for driving. For any reason, really.
The weight of snow on the shovel.
The wind chill while checking out my unit.
Kicking tires covered in slush. Driving.

But this was just a blanket of snow,
still waiting to be plowed at nine in the morning,
already packed down by morning traffic.
Traffic I navigated as I pulled a short trailer
into an intersection that was a glaze of ice.

Making a wide left turn, I watched the cars
that watched as I passed to their left, watched
the drivers’ already wide eyes widen further.
My gaze shifted from the road to my left mirror
to see my trailer jackknifing to meet me.

Heart in my mouth, I spun the wheel to the right,
felt my tractor straighten out, tugging the trailer pin
that had been pushing me around. The relief
in the eyes of those other drivers was palpable,
their cars spared for another day’s winter drive.

I pulled over a short way down the road,
did a walk-around, checked out my unit,
and kicked the tires, more out of frustration
than for any safety check. Safely back in the cab,
I drove off as I enjoyed a picturesque winter scene.

I may miss Buffalo, but I don’t miss Buffalo winters.

This poem is my second response to Poetics: Connections, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to about connecting or connections—in any sense. Merril cites the poetry of Mary Oliver as an example.

Before I retired, I drove for a trucking company in Buffalo, New York.  Buffalo is known for its winter weather, especially the lake effect storms that drop snow carried by the winds off of Lake Erie.  They made for some interesting experiences while driving a tractor/trailer (semi).

Shared with Open Link Night #282: LIVE Edition

49 thoughts on “Winter Blanket

  1. This poem sure has the ring of authenticity and is heartfelt (and heart pounding). It brought up a memory for me from many years ago when a car in the next lane and a little ahead hit ice on a snow covered road and did a 360, somehow not coming into my lane as I passed safely, no time or space for me to get out of the way. I’ve never forgotten that feeling of relief. Your poem is very evocative!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I can imagine. I continued to drive as I could not pull over, being in the center lane, but I clearly remember wondering if I had had a hallucination, the moment came and went so fast, and yet it seemed to go so slowly as I was in it, and then I realized my hands were shaking and had slowed to about 10 miles per hour. A car honking at me ( in Philadelphia drivers allow no slack) brought me back.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I know it made me appreciate life, although, for me that moment was when I was twenty-five, sliding head-first down the highway wearing just jeans and a denim jacket (and a helmet, of course) at 50mph after a car pulled out in front of my motorcycle. Road rash and a concussion was the extent of my injuries, but that definitely gave me an appreciation for life.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This is such a deeply poignant poem, Ken! And I must say I really admire the way you read your work out loud 💝💝 It makes for a satisfying experience 🙂

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  3. Oh Ken this had vivid imagery. Well done. I still have nightmares about when I hit black ice on a highway one night and my car started spinning around and i couldn’t control it because i was struck with fear. I came off the road and down a grassy bank and hit a pole. Thankfully there was only damage to the car and not to me and my son. I have never driven in icy conditions since and I have become the worst passenger in the world. 😦 Thank goodness I live in SW Florida now.! No ice here

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Really well told, Ken – I could feel the tension rising! Good that your instincts kicked in and brought things back in alignment. I’ve had just enough driving on icy roads to know they’re unpredictable … possibilities for disaster surely increase dramatically when towing. Whew! Glad I’m reading this safe in my house.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You brought the story to life tonight while reading, Ken. A harrowing event that thankfully ended well. That sheer ice is a terrible menace, and in a huge truck and trailer no less. Great lines:
    “Winter, always my least favorite season
    for driving. For any reason, really.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Glenn. I never drove over the road – mostly city p/u & delivery and home at the end of my shift. I have full respect for the long haul drivers I see on the road, with variable conditions and cars that treat them with little respect. I’m sure they have some harrowing tales.

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  6. This son of a life-long long-haul trucker enjoyed this one greatly, Ken, and grinned (grimaced?) the whole time you were reading. I only got to share one road trip with the old man, but by the time our coast-to-coast sojourn was over, this 11-ish year old had become a master roadmap reader.

    Thanks for the memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I always drive back to Buffalo when I visit. The last leg, from Cleveland, then Erie, and on to Buffalo is along Lake Erie, and during the winter it’s a coin-toss between clear roads and lake effect snow with whiteouts.
      Thanks, David.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mid-50s (F) the past two days and back to freezing temps, today, here in Missouri. The only thing I miss about those winters is the photo opportunities. That said, I still prefer there to here, but my heart has me here.

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      • Mid-50s is the norm for winter temps here, never freezing in the day and only occasionally at night. I couldn’t stand it any colder than this.
        If what you prefer is just the scenery, then I can understand why you’ve followed your heart.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I was gripped by your reading of this poem at OLN Live, Ken, your brought it to life with the intense tone of your voice, as if you were reliving the event. I can’t drive in snow after a couple of near misses, although we haven’t had much this year (a little again overnight, which is already thawing this morning) and I’m not allowed out until the lockdown is over, so I won’t be driving anyway. But I felt the fear and cold as I read your poem just now.

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    • Thank you, Kim. Winter storms aren’t an everyday thing there, but but I’ve still had some white-knuckle events while visiting in the winter.
      Here, in Missouri, “black ice” is an issue, when rain falls on the road and then freezes. Snow (when it does fall) often follows rain as the temperature drops so there can be that added issue for drivers who are unaware of ice below the snow. For the most part, though, the roads are dry during the winter.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed hearing you read this poem–what a scary moment! I can imagine that sort of surreal did-it-happen feeling, and the relief that you were OK, and hadn’t hit anyone else either. Such an evocative poem–I definitely felt like I was there.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your description of a near accident terrified me. Your descriptions of the white, cold, freezing, almost claustrophobic snow left me speechless. I was there. I could feel it. I could see it. I love your intense descriptions and repetition of what you must do out in it to check that trailer every single day. Great blog entry!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Your description of a near accident terrified me. Your descriptions of the white, cold, freezing, almost claustrophobic snow left me speechless. I was there. I could feel it. I could see it. I love your intense descriptions and repetition of what you must do out in it to check that trailer every single day. Great blog entry!!

    Liked by 1 person

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