In the middle of a conference call Wednesday morning, I remarked aloud that a storm had blown in and the wind grown incredibly fierce. A few minutes later, the line went dead. The Internet stopped working. Even my cell phone wouldn’t connect. Outside snow blew sideways until all the windows in our house whited out. I tried the front door, I had to see what was happening out there. But it barely budged. Soon the children’s school called on our landline, “weather is expected to get worse. Please come pick up your kids as soon as you can.”
I suited up: snow pants, snow gloves, snow boots. I made sure to cinch my hood tight so only my eyes and a small bit of my cheeks were exposed. Our three oversized garbage cans stood like watch dogs across the driveway. Head down, I leaned into the wind and threw them to the side of the house. Backing out of the driveway, I took a quick breath, hit the street and instantly thumped to a stop. The car jammed into a pile of snow. Wheels spun, but the car didn’t budge. Hazards flashing, I left the car in the middle of the street and trudged back to the garage for the shovel. After I’d dug a track under the wheels, I climbed inside as my cell phone started to ring. At least it was working again. Mr. Green informed me that the city had closed, busses had stopped running, and the embassy was shut. He’d take an embassy car, drop off a few others employees, and head home. Maybe the kids could get a school bus to get them home. Okay, I agreed. If only I could get out of the street.
Reversing into my newly dug tracks, the wheels spun and the car lurched backwards. But when I put it into drive, it leapt onto the road, moving forward, toward school. Did I dare turn around? Snow whipped around me: total whiteout conditions. I could only see a few feet in each direction. Turning around seemed harder than going forward. Until the intersection, that is, when again, I heard a thud. The wheels spun, but the snow was too thick, the car stuck in the snow. Wind slowed and I could see ahead of me another car stranded in the whiteness. After many minutes of my turning the wheel and trying to move in any direction, a man emerged from the other car.
He advised me to go back home. Together, we dug around the tires. Mr. Green called again: we can get the kids on a special school bus to take them home. No telling how long it will take to get them to you, but this is safer than you trying to drive. That sounded like a good idea. My rescuer pushed and the car budged, then jumped over the curb until it was cruising back on the road I’d come from—going the wrong way on a one-way street. But I was moving forward. And soon, I was back on our street, then in our garage.
Once home, I felt entirely useless. My kids were waiting for a bus that could take hours to arrive, then hours to get them home. My husband was driving in this blizzard trying to get his employees home. And I was sitting alone at the dining room table trying to find a way to see out of the windows that were totally covered in snow.
Eventually, the family made it home. The bus driver even carried little M over the massive drift in our front yard to deliver him to the door while B ran through the piles of snow to squeeze her way through the small gap to get inside.
This being springtime in Iceland, the wild weather stopped suddenly. By the following day, the wind calmed, a slushy rain fell, the snow melted, and by today, the sun blazed (okay, shone) across the island.