I’ve learned many survival skills while braving years of Wisconsin winters. The following is a series of posts on things that have come in handy for me during those blistery winter days and nights. Enjoy!
5. The Amish.
Now maybe on a different late winter night in college, you do make it out of your apartment without falling asleep (see #1) and you’re heading back home. And there’s a winter storm warning in effect, but surely bringing your college roommate with you cancels that out.
Or maybe it doesn’t?
About an hour into your drive you realize: Wow! This is really bad. We should turn around and head back. You’re in the middle of nowhere, so you turn off the highway at the next road to execute a perfect Y turn.
You hit ice and go sliding off the road, getting stuck in a snow-filled ditch.
What do you do?
This scenario seems vaguely familiar, so first you check your backseat for some dirty socks and sweaters. Check. Full tank of gas? Check. 5th Avenue candy bar? Check. But dammit all to hell where’s that popsicle cross?? It’s okay, it’s okay–you’ve got your roommate with you. She’s Catholic. That’ll do.
Now time for the big decision–do you stay in your warm car and wait until daylight for someone to find you–and from previous experience you know your car can run idle on a full tank of gas for at least 6 hours–or do you start walking to try to find a phone? You’re in the country–and now on a backroad–with no sign of life in sight. You decide to walk for help and find a phone.
You give your car keys to your Catholic roommate for safekeeping and start your well-practiced trek through the snow-covered countryside. When you spot a house down the road with a snowman out front you say to your roommate: “A snowman in the front yard must mean they have children. I doubt people with children would be murderers.” So you decide to knock on their door and wake them up. As you get closer it looks like there’s a light on inside, and you wonder: “Who in the hell would be awake at 4am??” and start doubting your ‘snowman = not murderers’ theory. But then you see a lit kerosene lamp through the window. And that kerosene lamp–coupled with years of family trips to Indiana–has shed some light on the situation.
Who would be awake at 4am? The Amish.
You are overjoyed with relief as you realize they’re already awake so you don’t have to feel bad knocking on their door–and there’s no way they’re murderers! You are beside yourself with glee as you bound up their front walk to call someone for help in the comfort of a warm, safe home.
And then it hits you.
Amish people don’t have phones.
No. Amish people don’t have phones. But what they do have is the most amazing and unmatched hospitality you could ever encounter. They took us in, warmed us up, and invited us to join their family for the biggest breakfast I’ve ever seen on a table. We visited until the sun came up and the snow storm had passed. And then they pulled my car out of the ditch and we were on our way. What began as one of the scariest nights in my life turned out to be one of the most amazing. I’ll never forget that experience or that wonderful family.
Which brings me back to my #5 Thing You Need In Winter! Stranded in a snow storm at 4am? Find yourself some Amish people.
6 Things You Need In Winter