So glad to be here

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Jan 04, 2013

The first thing to say is that I’m fine — completely unhurt. And I’m mostly over the shock. I’m still a little jittery on snowy roads, but that’s to be expected, maybe even a good thing if it makes me a bit more cautious, and certainly understandable, considering what happened.

What happened?

On a recent snowy Monday morning, I was driving to work. As I remember, it was snowing lightly, and there were two or three inches already on the ground. I was traveling up Route 131 from Union to Belmont, and the road had been plowed, but there was still snow on it. I, along with everyone else, was going slower than normal in deference to the conditions. And everything seemed to be OK — no fishtailing, no spinning, no one off the side of the road. Just a snowy Monday morning in Maine.

And then it happened. On a straight stretch of road in Searsmont, my car skidded, swerved across the road, and in a matter of seconds, wound up in a ditch with its front wheels on one side of a small stream and its back wheels on the other side. My first reaction, once the car came to rest, was to be surprised that I wasn’t hurt. At one point during the skid, the car had been heading directly for a pine tree, and I had been braced for a hard impact and pain. Somehow, I had just skinned the pine tree and ended up with it right behind me.

On automatic pilot, I put the car in park and turned it off, taking my keys. It was wedged in next to a tree and the driver’s side door wouldn’t open, so I climbed over and got out the passenger-side door. And stepped into freezing cold water up to my ankles. I climbed up the side of the ditch and trudged a few dozen yards up the road to a house, thinking, “I need to get to people.”

I knocked on the door and a furious barking ensued from within the house. A voice said someone was coming, but the dogs must be secured first. A woman still in pajamas opened the door and, when I explained what had happened, stepped back to let me inside. It was good to be in a warm place out of the snow. The dogs continued to bark from the bedroom where they were shut.

I pulled out my cell phone and called Maureen. When she answered, she immediately asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m fine, but I’ve wrecked the car,” I said.

“I’ll come get you,” she replied. That was it. No questions asked, no recriminations, just “I’ll come get you.” I think I did explain how I’d lost control of the car, probably on a patch of ice, but it was by way of information, not any justification Maureen required.

I sat in front of the pellet stove in Vicky’s kitchen and we talked about the ordinary details of life. She has her daughter and son-in-law and their children living with her and is retired from the kitchens at Quarry Hill. She has a collection of teapots. And I’m very grateful she opened the door to me that day.

The sheriff’s department came, and I explained to the deputy what had happened. Yes, I was wearing my seat belt (thank goodness); no, I didn’t feel the need to have the EMTs check me over; I was driving 30 or 35 miles an hour where the limit is 45. Here’s my registration and insurance card. I had AAA to cover towing the car to a body shop.

When Maureen got there, it was like the cavalry riding to the rescue, I was so relieved to see her truck. I opened the passenger door and said, “It was scary!” in a teary voice — because now I was safe.

The deputy gave me his card, returned my papers and said he would await the tow truck if I wanted to leave, so we did.

The rest of the day was divided between phone calls about the accident and working from home, thanks to the kindness of colleagues who picked up the slack.

All in all, not your typical snowy Monday. But one that reminded me how deeply blessed I am. And how glad I am to be here.

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