Snow in Leitrim, late Feb 2016

With a little help from my friends

I would let you know about my “simple” journey home last night.

All was going well and I was nearly home, I had seen no ice or frost on the roads although when I was about an hour and half from home I had noticed that it was already starting to freeze so I was going easy and taking care.

It was already dark as I passed our neighbours house below us on the last hilly stretch and I did wonder if I should just leave the van there and walk up the last few very steep hills. I should know better than to ignore my instinct but still I did ignore it and continued up the hill, going through the gears to try to keep my revs low.

I got around the difficult uphill 90 degree corner and could see the ice on the road, remembering all I have been told about driving on ice I did not go the brakes, I kept the revs steady but made little progress, she started slipping and could not grip at all. I braked gently and stopped the van slipping downhill. I let it go downhill a little to where there was no ice and tried going up again but got the same result. Knowing that one definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour and expecting different results I just stopped where I was.

I saw the postman come over the top of the hill from the far side and take the turn for our higher road to deliver our post. I knew that to continue his route he would normally turn down the hill to where I was sitting so I put on my hazard lights to alert him but to no avail, he had already turned down the road when he noticed the lights and then he became stuck too.

I tried going slowly in reverse because I knew that there was a gateway into a field on the turn and I thought that maybe I could get the van into the gate and off the road. I knew also that there was a very deep ditch, ten foot or more just above the gateway and higher up on the bend. The van started sliding as I got near the bend and I got nervous and stopped again.

I noticed lights coming up the road behind me and recognised my neighbours voice when he got out of his jeep and approached the van. He had heard the van going past the house and he knew that it was unlikely to make it up the hill so he came to see if help was needed. My predicament was obvious so no explanations were necessary.

The postman walked down the hill to see what plan we could come up with and he had a hard time trying to stay on his feet. Apparently it had rained the previous evening and then froze and the sun never reached this part of the hill so it never thawed and the ice was really quite thick and very treacherous.

We rang a neighbour from the far side of the hill, the postman had just come past there and knew that he was home. He arrived in his four wheel drive and pulled the postman’s van backwards up the hill and then reversed down to see if there was anything he could do for me.

My neighbour tried pulling my van up the hill but it was not going to work, not even with me driving as well, we were both just slipping. However we did get my van safely down to the gateway with both of my neighbours lighting the ditch with strong torches and giving me the confidence to do it because they could clearly see how best to manoeuvre and gave me instructions on when to turn and when to slowly brake.

‘Twas all quite an adventure for what is usually just a simple journey home. It’s great to have neighbours that care about each other and will go out of their way to help each other out. I feel very lucky to live in an area where people still have time for each other. It’s also a reminder to not ignore my instincts, listen to that little voice, it usually knows better than I do!

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  1. Hi Scrib – I just want to say that I am very glad your guest-writer Miriam is OK. I have been through situations like the one Miriam described while living in northern Michigan (very much like Ireland). It can be quite scary driving on roads under such conditions.

    I understand your friend Miriam, is planning to team up with Liz over at LizBiz to do a workshop to help women learn how to use tools to build and repair with. Sounds like a great idea to me. If I was in Ireland I would sign up for this workshop in a heartbeat. Perhaps Miriam will do another guest post and tell us more about this workshop?

    Lindy in AZ,USA

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