I’ve lived in northern Virginia for 20 years and one of the things that separates transplants from the Ohio Valley area from the natives is our reaction to snowfall. I recall very well the first winter my wife and I spent out here. We heard on the news on evening that snow was expected that night and it would amount to 1 to 2 inches. In the area around Canton, OH that’s considered a dusting so we thought nothing of heading the grocery store that night to pick up a few things we needed.
You’d have thought someone was launching nukes at us based on the scene that opened before us once we got there.
There were people dragging carts to the checkouts that had between 4 and 7 gallons of milk, as many loaves of bread and enough toilet paper to equip your average Army barracks. We were amazed and couldn’t figure out what was causing the panic. Some of our new friends in the area told us later on that it was always like that when snow started falling around here. They were right and it continues to amaze me how people will act like they’re going to be snowed in for a month every time the word “snow” is mentioned on the news.
What we have here, this morning, is a horse of a completely different color. Snow, I can drive in. I’ve driven in snow that was deep enough to be brushing against the bottom of the car. You need to be careful, but it can be done. Ice, on the other hand – no one drives on ice. Even walking on it can be dangerous and it takes quite a bit of focus to get anything really accomplished while you do. Our weather patterns here yield ice storms just about as often as snowstorms, a significant difference between here and Ohio. After damn near performing the splits a few times in recent years as I tried to walk down my driveway to the mailbox, my attention was drawn to something in a store one day last fall.
In a Plow & Hearth store, there was a rackload of these devices designed to slip over your boots that would assist in walking on ice. They’re called Yaktrax® and I finally broke them out for a test run yesterday evening as the ice started falling. They consist of a heavy rubber lattice that you stretch over your shoes from toe to heel. On the bottom of the lattice (where you stand on them) there are metal springs wrapped around the strands of rubber. (Follow the link, they’ve got a picture.)
The difference in walking with them versus without is nothing short of amazing. I stepped out onto the driveway, which was pretty slick when I tried it without the Yaktrax, and it felt like there was no ice there at all. My feet stayed where I placed them and I walked down the driveway with no more effort than I do when it’s clear and dry. I would recommend them to anyone who lives in an area where ice storms are relatively common. I’m going to go order a set for my mom and my in-laws. The $20 these things cost are a small price to pay to have them avoid a fall and the possible busted body parts that come with it.
Go have a look. With all the gadgets that get touted around, it’s nice to run into one that works like it says it does and simply, to boot.
From under a half-inch of ice on top of whatever snow we already had, I’d like to extend a Happy St. Valentine’s Day to you all. We’re certainly not going anywhere today and schools are all closed. Hope your day is an enjoyable one!