With acute awareness that five days later I’d be retrieving my car on a dark night, I weaved through the airport parking lot to score the best spot.
I was on a hastily arranged pre-Christmas trip to New York, and I had decided to drive myself to KCI. Most times I try to book flights so my peeps can chauffer me both ways, but they were solidly obligated on my sudden departure date.
I had no buffer time that particular afternoon to even consider a van transport. I’ve had bad luck hiring airport rides anyway. Never again will I gamble on landing a chatty conspiracy theorist, or a speeder who gets pulled over, or a brake-tapping carsickness inducer. One does not easily forget airport “limos” of yore.
The parking space I nabbed was just feet away from one of the scattered bus pick-up/drop-off shelters. It was directly below a light pole. Convenient. Well-lit. Perfect.
The plan was, upon my return, I’d sprint a few steps from the airport shuttle bus door to my car and peel out. Zip, zoom, vroom. I visualized turning on the ignition even before the driver switched gears to roll away. He and his busload of weary airline travelers would witness my short mad dash to get behind the wheel. They would even see the puff of exhaust billow from my tailpipe.
But the best laid plans of mice and men are coated with layers of granite-like precipitation. While I was on my trip, Mother Nature arched an eyebrow, grinned a sly grin and showed me who was boss. She dumped a thick Scandia Down blanket of ice on my car and kept the temperatures arctic-like to preserve her handiwork. I had no plan for this.
To add icing to the ice, my connecting flight was late. I was already exhausted. As the shuttle bus zigged and zagged me through the lonely, frozen lot around 11:30 pm, I studied the lines of cars. The ice sheathed each vehicle in haphazard patterns. Some lucky folks who parked a certain direction would return to clear windshields. I knew which way my car faced even before I got to shelter B5.
The bus spit me out. I did my mad dash, as planned. I threw my luggage in the car and assessed the glazing. I gasped when I tapped the windshield with my flimsy touch-screen gloves. It wasn’t a layer of frost. Nor a sheet of ice. It was something of Hans Brinker’s dreams, a coating thick enough to accommodate that village of canal skaters you always see in old Dutch winter scene paintings. (I could have used their Victorian hand muffs.)
As the shuttle bus disappeared into the night, I was armed to fight nature with a plastic windshield scraper. I started with the saltiest of salty language, which ironically did nothing to melt the ice. I turned on the engine to get the windshield “defroster” going. It was blowing cold air. For a long time. But I chipped away at the glacier and took frequent breaks to check on the heater. A lifetime later I managed to carve out a little hole. A starting point. A portal of hope.
Eventually my car huffed out some flimsy heat along the dash board, but mostly it took sheer muscle and a sleigh full of choice words to clear my view and dig out the wiper blades. More than 20 minutes later, I was grateful to glide out of there. As I paid the stone-faced booth attendant 45 bucks, I felt like a euphoric Jimmy Stewart at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
“Isn’t that creepy parking lot THE BEST?!”
I hopped on I-29. The midnight moon caught my eye. It was low, tinted yellow and half-full, yet larger than usual. What’s the word? Majestic. Like a trusty lantern, the asymmetrical orb guided me all the way home.
“Buffalo gals won’t you come out tonight, and dance by the light of the moon…”
Here’s to a beautiful winter.
Reach Denise Snodell at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @DeniseSnodell