Dogwood & Di

That’s right: ME — standing under the aforeposted dogwood tree at South Sandusky. (You can’t really tell, Danny, but I just so happen to be wearing an Ohio State Buckeyes T-shirt … and, no, not because I want them to win the NCAA championship — sorry, I’m rooting for the Florida Gators — but Diane did get me this T-shirt a while back when she was at a math conference, and I just so happened to find it amongst a stack of gray T-shirts this a.m., so I thought, what the heck?)

At this point in the day, I had not yet become The Original April Fool. No, that occurred when I moseyed over to North Sandusky and decided I needed to take pictures of some of the May apples. I was also hoping that I might accidentally stumble onto a morel or two, even though I have never actually found one (I was obsessed with trying to, however, a few years back), other than the one I found that someone else had found and tossed aside along the bike trail at South Sandusky.

For whatever reason, I decided to pull off the side of the road. Despite the fact that the road I was on gets close to no traffic, and I would have been absolutely safe simply pulling my car to the edge of the road and putting on my emergency flashers. Instead, I apparently forgot the heavy rains we’ve gotten on two of the last three days (or was it three of the last four?) and pulled onto the grass, which slanted down toward a gully before angling back up to where the May apples were.

The ground was as soft as my pillow, and my car immediately got stuck. In the grass. Which turned into mud whenever I tried to continue forward. Or back up.

Two guys in a pickup truck drove past me, then backed up to see if they could help. They got out and tried pushing my car from the front while I tried to back up: No progress; in fact, I actually started to slide further down the hill. They asked if I had anything they could use to pull me out (such as a rope or a chain); I looked in the trunk and found jumper cables and some bungee cords — along with some paper towels, TP, a couple of kites, two softballs, my ballglove, a Stephen King book and various other items which might be good for random entertainment but are virtually useless when your car is stuck in the mud. Another man who had stopped gave me the number for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers main office at Rend Lake; Tim, the guy who answered the phone, told me he’d send a ranger.

Help was on the way!

In the meantime, I thought about how I’d gotten into this mess — which, by mess standards, wasn’t that big of one. For starters, the temperature was in the low 70s; I was perfectly comfortable in my T-shirt and cargo shorts. Plus, it was midday under a cloudless sky; I wasn’t going to run out of daylight any time soon, and there didn’t appear to be any weather threats.

Still, I felt thirsty. I polished off the last couple of swallows of the mini-bottle of water that I’d brought and immediately wondered, what if this were an Actual Emergency? My breakfast today had been three or four Pringles when I was on my way out the door; what if my blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels and I was unable to function?

I realized that my survival skills are pretty much nil … and I need to do a better job being better prepared if I’m going to make these occasional jaunts into the wildnerness. (OK, so, truthfully, I was less than an fourth of a mile from the main road and a private campground. Still: Did my three full weeks [possibly longer] as a member of the Shelbyville Brownie Troop teach me NOTHING about Being Prepared?!)

Fortunately, right about that time, Ranger Lanny showed up. He surveyed the situation and decided, immediately, that we needed a tow truck. He got on the walkie-talkie and called the main office, which in turn called the county dispatcher; in a couple of minutes, we got word that a tow truck was on its way.

Lanny hung out with me until the tow truck arrived. I didn’t catch the driver’s name, but I will gave a MAJOR shout-out to Abbott’s Towing: This guy had my car hooked up and pulled out of the mud in a matter of seconds. I gave him my insurance card (another shout-out to State Farm), he jotted down the information and, within minutes, I was on my way.

Stuck Car


I should also mention that, in the midst of my conversation with Lanny, before the tow truck arrived, I got a call on my cell phone from The Lovely, who was on her way to St. Louis to see the Cardinals’ Opening Night game against the New York Mets.

“Hey, Di,” she began, “could you do me a favor?”

“Well, uhhhhh … what is it?”

“I left my billfold on the kitchen table. Could you get it for me and meet me in Mt. Vernon?”

“Wellllllll, that’s going to be a little bit difficult,” I told her.

I started to tell her about my current preDIcament, but before I could get too far into it, she started laughing and said, “April fool!” (She told me she thought I, too, was fooling at first — until I assured her that I was, indeed, stuck in the mud.)