This time of year, the road that rumbles past my rural Montana home is a one way ramble to nowhere. With over two feet of snow blanketing the ground, travel is restricted by the whim of our county plow operator. You can drive up the valley beyond my home for five miles – if the plow has preceded you. You’ll pass a handful of ranches before crossing the cattle guard and reaching a turnaround, marking the end of county maintenance responsibilities. This time of year, unless you’re on snow shoes, strapped into skis or astride a snow machine, you’d better stop. Drive much further and stuck you’ll surely get – like a spoon shoved into a frozen pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream. If we’ve just had a fresh snow fall, you’re in the middle of vanilla bliss. After a thaw, think mud pie.
A county employee handles the plowing in the winter, and the grading when the gravel road is bare. Blades are his game and Farley is his name — and he’s both loved and cursed, depending on the condition of the road and the frequency with which you travel it.
Also, whether or not you attend Farley’s church. Really.
This time of year, I curse Farley.
Perched high above the road, Farley operates the snow plow with cold detachment. He powers the big blade with efficient speed past the few homes scattered here in the upper reaches of the valley. Piloting the bulky machine, he displays little empathy for local residents, leaving icy boulders that obliterate mailboxes and form stout barricades across driveway aprons. A slight turn of his wrist would angle the blade away from these property entrances, and enable him to sweep the snow to the opposite side of the road on his return trip down the valley. His refusal to do this is both baffling and enraging.
The love of the Lord, though, courses through Farley’s veins when he approaches properties owned by those who attend church with him. Farley slows and then adroitly veers into these driveways, lowering his blade and proceeding with surgical precision to clear snow and prepare his fellow brethren a heavenly path.
Praise Jayzus, the saved do indeed look out for each other. The rest of us are left to shovel like hell, and curse like the devil.