Ted’s essays

The Knights before Christmas

2245 hours, Christmas Eve 2008, SW Idaho …
Damsel in Distress calls from a snowdrift 1/2 way home from work. Dang weather seems to have followed us south.

Valiant Knight dons quilted coverall armor and mounts Trusty Steed (1/2T V6 4×4, white, of course) to dash to the rescue. Wind tears driver’s side door out of my hands, which sounded awful at the stop, but without apparent damage. My lugged boots had inadequate traction to close door so I had to sit on seat in order to pull it shut against the wind.

Great studded snow tires have me blasting through 12-18″ drifts in 2wd, feeling confident, perhaps cocky (Uh Oh).

I find Fair Maiden with Lesser Knight spinning front and rear tires on Lesser Steed attached to her ’84 Mercedes 300D with a tow rope we keep in her trunk… to no avail. Ah, a kind and gentle mortal. When straight pulls didn’t work, Clever Valiant Knight delivers distressed maiden from drift with a series of gentle tugs using momentum carefully metered to break nothing … he’s all but whistling happy tunes now.

In a vast flat sea of middle-of-Mercedes-bumper-high snow, Confident, Clever, Brave and Bold Valiant Knight parks Mercedes to one side of the estimated road between fence lines and heads around other side to blaze a trail to the castle. Both left legs of Trusty Steed discover a rather deep ditch and gracefully lean its body against the far bank thereof. The Gomer driving this stupid little truck climbs uphill, over the stick shift and raises the passenger door open to climb up and out.

Lesser Knight and Lesser Steed try, but cannot help Gomer backwards out of the ditch. Thanks so much for your efforts… we abandon tilting toy truck (TTT), determined to prance, dance and blast my way home in our fine example of German engineering (plenty of snow and nastiness in that neighborhood, eh). About 100 yards away I enter a 80 foot drift with as much speed as the turbo-diesel could generate in the distance between the drifts, and skip, slide, dance and spin through 79 feet of it. Nope. Not another inch.

Greater Knight (promoted) walks up to say he’s going for help…. ex-in-laws live 3/4-mile away and have well-shod 3/4T 4×4 Suburban. Nuther Knight comes by with well-shod 3/4T 4×4, waltzes through the drift and tows Mercedes the necessary foot.

Greater Knight and father-in-law arrive on scene. We all head back to TTT. Nuther Knight drops me off, resumes blazing trail for his daughter’s car, but now in the safer, opposite direction and promises to return in a few minutes once he gets her off this auto-eating avalanche.

Now arriving on the scene is Macho Knight (MK) in High Rise 4×4 with Monster Tires and all the horsepower on the planet. Monster Tires are wonderful for flotation on marshy ground but garbage for biting through snow. Still, Gomer is in no position to turn down help and lacks the credibility necessary to convince the Knights of Christmas Eve that the Suburban would have a better shot at this when all can see that High Rise has all the horsepower on the planet and it makes wonderful big-truck turbo-power sounds every time MK blips its throttle.

With my two tow straps in line, MK attempts to pull TTT forward to the right while TTT scratches and claws to get up-and-out. High Rise (HR) gets sideways on the road and quits. Unhook. MK struggles in vain to get HR straight, or even move more than a few feet back and forth. I recruit pushers who strain mightily and repeatedly on that overweight pachyderm, finally straightening it out after I use my boots to knock the snow ridges out of monster tires’ way.

MK is persistent, though. Out of HR’s chrome tool box comes a 30′ chain, which attaches to 2 tow straps and allows HR to start from the far side of this Venus Fly Trap of a snowdrift. More horsepower, more spinning tires, some forward movement and TTT’s front tires grab ahold of something that gives it a jump up onto the road just as one tow rope snaps in two. The momentum and grip are just enough and TTT pops out of the ditch to resume its upright stance.

* insert sound of cheers being sent west in the wind *

The Knights Of The Celebratory Circle do some ritualistic right-glove to right-glove grappling, chant many Merry Christmas-es and watch carefully to make darn sure everyone gets out of sight in both directions.

Now I have to re-think my skepticism regarding Santa Claus. It would appear he flew over a struggling couple on a lonely back road around midnight Christmas Eve and spilled some gallant knights out of his sack to share the pride and joy of helping each other conquer the elements and the pleasure of doing good deeds for those in need.