Last Saturday, the snow was coming down so thick that it was difficult to see the barn from the house. Over the weekend, travelers were stranded in local fire halls and at neighboring farmhouses.
Arens kids enjoy sledding after last year's Christmas blizzard.
Farmers are well known for their neighborliness when others need help. Living and farming along a well-traveled, but rather remote county blacktop road, our family and others living along our road have pulled more than one traveler from the ditch.
One evening during a blizzard five years ago, about 20 inches had already fallen when I finished feeding cows and trudged back to the comfort of our house. As I brushed the snow from my coveralls, I told my wife that I hoped no one would be dumb enough to be out on the road in that blizzard.
I sat in my easy chair and began sipping a hot cup of coffee when I thought I noticed someone walk past our window. Seconds later I heard a knock on the door. When I opened the door, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
A gentleman, probably in his early sixties, looked at me, tired and red-faced, out of breath from his long trudging walk to our house from his pickup, which was stranded in a snowdrift on the hill. I looked at him and said rather bluntly, “Are you crazy being out tonight?”
He was making deliveries and replied that his boss had assured him that his route was clear before he left home.
“Do you think I can make Yankton?” he asked. Yankton, SD is about 18 miles from our farm.
“I don’t think you’ll make another mile,” I replied. “You’re staying right where you are.”
We couldn’t drive the pickup because the snow was too deep, so we hopped in the tractor and drove in the dark to find his pickup and retrieve his baggage. Turning the tractor around, I lost sight of the road and began driving into the ditch before I was able to catch a glimpse of the faded white line along the edge of the road. We headed back to the farm at a snail’s pace, staying as close to the center of the road as we could.
Back home in the warm house, we sat down to supper about the time the power went out. We lit lanterns and opened the oven of our propane kitchen stove for warmth, playing cards and telling jokes by the dim light of the lantern.
We visited with our new houseguest about his family, children and grandchildren. He told us stories of his farm upbringing and shared laughs as the night wind howled outside. He enjoyed talking to our youngsters as they decorated the Christmas tree, and he expressed appreciation for a place to spend the night, other than in his cold pickup.
The next morning we drove the tractor to the man’s pickup as the snowplow passed by and pulled him out of a gigantic drift. He was on his way again.
A week later we received a thank you note from the man’s wife. “Thanks for taking such good care of my husband,” she wrote.
It was our pleasure. I think we enjoyed having him as our unexpected guest as much as he was happy to have a place to stay - even if I still think he was absolutely crazy to be driving on a night like that.