Archive for Wednesday, February 14, 2001

Ice storm brough beauty, too

February 14, 2001

The road was slick, buried beneath a layer of frozen sludge and snow. My little car crept atop Highway 56, anticipating the next patch of ice that would raise its driver's blood pressure. I knew I shouldn't be driving. I watched the weather report and even called the highway patrol, but in the end, a trip to Lawrence, for dinner, seemed more logical than any esteemed authority. The unplowed roads of Baldwin City showed remnants of the winter storm that caught the thawing ground off-guard. I knew the highway was dangerous, especially in the late afternoon, when my weekly craving for Mexican food hit. I knew the temperatures would drop, and my return home would be dark.

The sun sank as I pulled onto 56, determined to beat Mother Nature's latest challenge. With my eyes trained on the road and my hands at "10 and two" I drove.

The radio was off, my cell phone was in the glove compartment, nothing could distract me from my job of taming the icy conditions, but the ice itself. The sun, situated directly in front of me, illuminated the road, then spilled over to the fences and trees that lined my path. I started with one quick glance, at a wire fence; sparkling and shimmering like glass in the sun. The ice storm, which had left the road treacherous, turned the brown fields and leafless trees into a collection of fine crystal.

I drove on, forgetting the danger and my annoyance with relentless Kansas winter, instead concentrating on the glass world outside my window. Trees dipped in ice, reflecting and refracting the sunset's most vibrant colors. Reds, oranges, deep pinks bounced from icicle to icicle. Each blade of grass was covered in ice. Nothing was without the glaze.

I am not one that is easily impressed. It takes an Oscar performance to put a smile on my face. On that snowy day, on Highway 56, headed west out of Baldwin City, quite a showing of nature's feathers broke through the unimpressive sludge that had covered the treads of my tires and the road ahead.

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