The Midwest took a wallop this Christmastime. This is the winter of my kidhood, waist-deep in snowpants and glancing-blow bumpers all over the city, everyone your neighbor and savior.
We dig in a few days then get bored and brave plowed in intersections to stomp frozen feet before the survivalist, manly palaces of Fleet Farm and Gander Mountain. I fondle shovels and buy $17 socks made by a manufacturer of power tools.
I crash skulls with Sam wrassling in the snow. Rob totals his car and Joe ignores that his exists, the backseat full of lumber.
Sam and I need to be rescued from our dad’s by four-wheel drive for Giftmas at Mom’s in West Fargo.
I get a garlic press, running shoes and a trip to the spa. I give a clothes dryer and six copies of McCarthy’s The Road. Attempting to return to Fargo late that night, we ram then lodge into a drift. We spin and try to rock. I roll eyes. Joe hoots. City kids, what’s UP. Our escape was gradual. An SUV was involved, chains and grunts, heave-ho shovelfuls and the force of weight.
I can joke about a cooler full of Budweiser and snow. Cringe at a freezer full of moose, shot dead by my not-so-baby brother Joe. Not my culture? it’s my history. It’s my family. Dear.
Had there been no nature drama, Man versus Drift just us, just this it would have been disappointing—like one us didn’t care enough to tempt and take on the taunt, to torment and feel terror with or without real danger.
Though we were hearty and safe, people do fail at snow. They pound their dashes, get traffic tickets, freeze to death in rural ditches. Never learn the art and science of rocking a car, explained by neighbors in Carhartts who laugh at them, then save them.
This is what we’re made of, where we came from, what we’re for.