We took a vacation over New Year’s weekend. A real one. The kind where we didn’t even drag horses along, not the sort of vacation that happened to include a couple of rodeos. Instead, the Jeep was packed to the roof with sports equipment: ski pants and coats, ice skates, hockey sticks and pucks, a life jacket for the kid to use at Bozeman Hot Springs (recreation with my family is not for wimps). Seat belts were pretty much moot during the trip. If we’d rolled the car we would have been pummeled to death by our own toys.
The trouble is, my car is a black hole. Things go in and they never come out unless we need to use them again or we have to create space for a new pile of stuff, which is why this time last year I was still hauling a pair of kayak paddles around from our trip to lake in August and a rope from the rodeo I went to in July.
So of course when I went to the store the part of my car where I usually haul groceries was still packed full of gear. And of course the wind was blowing, as it has every day since approximately 2008, only harder. Since there was no snow to speak of and the temperatures had hit the forties at midday, I was dressed up, wearing my favorite new pair of high-heeled boots and white dress pants.
I braced the grocery cart with my butt to keep it from being blown into the side of the car while I wrestled the back hatch of the Jeep open. Just as it occurred to me that I really should have parked facing into the wind, the life jacket blew out and took off across the parking lot. I jumped after it, hearing the cart slam into my bumper as I attempted to sprint in my fancy boots. Luckily the life jacket hung up on the cart rack just long enough for me to spear it with one four inch heel.
I staggered back to the Jeep, pried the cart off the trailer hitch, shoved the life jacket clear past the back of the rear seat, then realized I had leaned on the bumper in the process, smearing dirt across the front of my white pants. I said some bad words, grabbed the milk and plunked it into the car. It landed on a pair of ice skates and rolled right back out again, hitting the pavement with a smack and bursting a seam. More bad words. Milk is expensive, you know.
But wait! Thanks to recent concerns about the city water supply I’ve been hauling my own well water for coffee at the office, which meant I had an empty milk jug in the back seat. I tottered around to the side door and yanked it open. The wind tore through the Jeep from the open rear hatch, snatched up the minutes from the last Montana Storytelling Roundup committee meeting and flung them at the new overpass.
More bad words. More scrambling around in the high heels. Finally I got the remainder of the milk transferred to the new jug and chased down what I could find of my paperwork. I managed to stuff the rest of the groceries in without incident, wrestle the cart into the rack before the Jeep required body work and get myself into the car before my hands were completely numb, because of course the temperature had dropped twenty degrees in the hour before I got off work.
My calves had cramped up by the time I got home, not being accustomed to running windsprints in dress shoes. When I limped in the door my husband took one look at my snarled hair and muddy pants and went straight out to not only lug in the groceries but haul all the various sporting equipment down to the storage granary, which made the whole kerfluffle almost worth it—especially for that guy sitting in his pickup in the next row in the store parking lot. I guarantee this was the one time he didn’t get bored waiting for his wife to finish the grocery shopping.
Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real