Al Batt: My neighbor nearly got a DOI ticket — driving on ice

Published 8:59 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Tales from Exit 22 by Al Batt

Buying used underwear.

Al Batt

That has nothing to do with this column, but I had to start it some way.

Email newsletter signup

Our refrigerator doesn’t have an icemaker. We have refrigerator magnets in there because the door was fully covered. It’s nice when the ice leaves the lakes, but it’s wonderful when the ice leaves my driveway. Anyone who lived through the Ice Ages knows that exhilaration. There was a lot of ice on my driveway. Not a “Call the National Guard” amount, but an ample sufficiency.

If a Sasquatch can morph into other shapes, as some people have claimed, it might be ice. We get more than our fair share of ice. Of course, a Greenlander would say, “You call that ice?” Ice was ubiquitous and can be treacherous. Remember the Titanic. I talked to people who had taken tumbles on the slippery surface. We’re reminded to look not where we fall but where we slipped.

Ice is beautiful and disreputable. Ice is attention-grabbing and causes us to walk like we’re walking on ice. That’s right, we’re wild and crazy people who walk on ice. Ice was water before it was cool. We shuffle as if our feet are too heavy to lift. Our knuckles whiten as our steps shorten. I realize ice doesn’t club baby seals and we need it for hockey, curling, ice fishing, cocktails and polar bears, but none of those things occur in my yard. I have one of those rare driveways that has never hosted a single polar bear guzzling a Coca-Cola product. Here’s a little-known fact: Netflix sponsors ice because it keeps people in the house binge-watching things we won’t remember in a week.

Our roads aren’t amusement parks, but ice can make them like driving on an ice rink. Like the Jetsons, we have flying cars. Ours fly in circles on the ice. Snow tires become ice skates. There’s a trick to driving on ice, but nobody knows what it is.

Spring hailed a cab and brought beautiful things to the dooryard. Spring comes early to the south side of buildings. I welcomed a dandelion there. I rejoiced in the song of the red-winged blackbird. “Look at me,” said a male. I looked because spring occupies my mind.

A friend mentioned his yard had become a frozen tundra. It made me think of Lambeau Field in Green Bay. I haven’t been to many NFL stadiums, but I’ve been to that one. Its nickname “the frozen tundra” likely originated in the Dallas Cowboys’ version of the highlight film of the 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Packers and the Cowboys, titled, “A Chilling Championship,” wherein Bill Woodson used the term “the frozen tundra” to describe Lambeau Field. The game was known as the “Ice Bowl” but before the 1967 season, an underground electric heating system had been installed. My yard has no similar system, but it has no Packer players either, so I came out ahead on that deal.

The Coast Guard won’t bring an ice breaker so I use an ice chipper to get the ice off the driveway. That works, but spring works better.

The unpaved driveway of my junior years ran downhill from the house to the road, just as my current escape route does. Snow and ice melt rushed down the driveway. I carved

rivulets (streamlets or creeklets) into the gravel and dirt to help the water on its merry way out of the yard. It was meditative.

Rod Serling introduced ice this way, “You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.” He turned it into a TV series later.
Ice has been my loyal winter companion, but spring provides a welcome ice removal service. It’s not perfect for the job as it spends time as sprinter, a cross between spring and winter.

I hereby release ice from its contract. Farewell, old chum. Keep your head up, hang in there and live every day to the fullest.

I have to end this column some way.

Buying used underwear.

Al Batt’s columns appear in the Tribune every Wednesday.