How am I going to get him here? My 14 year old nephew Thomas---coming to the Land to help design my novel’s cover---is due at the airport in 1 hour, yet our driveway is now ice. It’s amazing how much I don’t know about living this new life, like the capability of rainwater to seep between, and to the tire-grabbing top of, each and every gravel rock, then freeze to a perfect speed-skating straightaway (complete with hills for added excitement!). I’ve just solved one problem: driving the slick highways to Minneapolis, by reserving him a seat on the Go Rochester Direct shuttle van. But the ultimate problem remains, how am I going to navigate the first (and last!) quarter mile of the trip to Rochester to pick him up, in the thin-tired Prius!? I'd just waved good-bye to Linda in the 4-wheel drive CRV.
An hour ago I test-drove the CRV, doing OK until the last downhill toward our house. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of sliding in a large vehicle. I’m a kid again, sitting in the passenger seat next to dad, turning a fantasy steering wheel and pumping fantasy brake. Except I have no dad---no driver at all actually---to keep the car from turning sideways, which it did until a tire left the road and grabbed some crunchy purchase on the lip of the ditch. Straddling lip and road I managed to find the bottom where all I could do is ponder the possibilities of the Prius, of which two seemed quite likely. Either I’d fail to make it up the hill (and strand Thomas in downtown Rochester) or I’d pirouette downhill and drop over the culvert (with wide-eyed Thomas aboard). If only this driveway had a little grip, like the far-steeper, yet navigable, Calico Hill Road, upon which the township had sprinkled a little fresh gravel. A little fresh gravel! That’s what I need. But who’s got spare gravel just lying around?
And finally I see it. The solution. Gravel!!! There at the driveway's far edge ran of little ridge, like an inverted mountain range with snow clapped sides and rocky peaks. And those rocks were gravel, which until now, I hadn’t notice. How could I be so blind?
Because, until now, that gravel had been a problem, a tiny yet always irritating, thorn in my side. We’d hired Excavator Steve to keep our driveway clear. He does a good job! Except….except maybe their blade shaves a little too close sometimes, scraping gravel off the driveway and onto the snow mounds. And when I’d gaze upon those mounds all I can imagine is the April hassle when the lawn is strewn with gravel. And this perceived problem---a creation of my own mind---had done what the label “problem” always does: builds a ice-box around possibility. What to do? Just as I’d done to the thin ice covering the solar panels, I shatter that box. “The gravel isn’t a problem,” I shout to The Land. “The gravel is a solution.”
But right now, thanks to nothing but an ice-shattering change in attitude---to see the mountain of solution---I have the prize. Nephew Thomas is here!
I’m a lucky man.