Cheese and February
My shoulders hurt, my toes are cold, and I have a three-quarter inch diameter dent in the middle of my forehead.
And it’s all because of cheese.
Cheese and February.
I need to learn how to make cheese. Evidently there’s more to it than just never throwing away the milk in the refrigerator, so I signed up for a class.
The cheese makers (Go ahead Monty Python fans. Say, “Blessed are the cheese makers.”) lived about two hundred miles away, but considering I have to drive sixty miles to buy a new shirt, the distance didn’t worry me too much. Still, it is February in Minnesota, so I did worry a little. This time of year every appointment on the calendar needs to be marked with an asterisk, because if the snow falls and the wind blows, the schedule sails down wind along with the visibility.
The weather report started looking a little worse as the week wore on, but because I’d already paid for the class, I was committed to the journey.
The travel there went well. We stopped in the city and saw one of our daughters and some other relatives, and then checked into our room only tenmiles from our destination. We got up early the next morning and headed outside for a pleasant morning constitutional.
It was raining, and some of the rain was in big chunks.
We skipped the walk, had breakfast, and worried. The rain had changed to all chunks, and by the time we were supposed to be at the dairy farm we had several inches of sloppy white stuff. We slalomed around corners and inched our way up hills and down, and arrived at our destination in a heavy snowfall.
I didn’t actually learn much at the class, because I spent most of the time staring out the window at the storm, wondering if we were going to have to spend the night in a sheep barn.
It was about ten miles back to town, and in our path was one hill about half a mile long. We were going about thirty mph at the bottom, but we were down to about five miles an hour with much spinning by the time we made it to the top.
And that was the first ten miles.
In the first hundred miles we passed a lot of accidents. A common problem in bad weather is the folks in four-wheel drive vehicles. Many of them don’t seem to understand that four-wheel drive helps you go faster, but it doesn’t help you slow down. If you’re upside down in a ditch, it doesn’t help at all.
It wasn’t all bad. We discovered that our car gets terrific mileage when we only go 40 mpg.
We drove through blowing snow and got home only 18 hours behind schedule. I fired up the tractor snowblower to tidy up the foot or so of snow in our yard. When I backed into the first snowdrift, I heard something snap. It wasn’t a big noise, just a noise you wouldn’t want to hear. Plus, the snowblower stopped blowing snow.
It wasn’t a huge deal – a key had sheared off on a shaft. I had the tools and a new key; the fix just involved a couple of hours of taking things apart and putting themback together. The only real downside was that most of it was done lying on my back in the snow and working over my head.