Our most recent snowfall was last Sunday. The weather has given us a break with sunny skies and slightly warmer daytime temperatures ever since, for which we’re very thankful. The forecast calls for continued clearing over the next few days.

Our “weekend warrior” neighbors C., D. and five-year-old son Carson got stuck in their 4-wheel drive truck on the little dirt road leading from our house on Sunday afternoon, while leaving for their regular house in the SF bay area. It had snowed (very wet and slushy) off and on all that day.

Husband D. tried going up the snowy, muddy path too fast and ended up spinning out, creating deep ruts in which his truck became mired.

His wife C. and Carson walked down to our place to ask for our help. Poor gal! — she was so distraught; truly in an altered state, totally freaked out, even on the verge of tears.

My heart went out to her; I’ve experienced this kind of over-reaction to disturbing events myself in the past. In calm voices, James and I tried to reassure C. that they would get out successfully.

James walked up the road to lend his assistance, while I stayed behind to tend the fire.

He encouraged D. to back up and try going up the hill again, avoiding the worst of the ruts which D. had created, and finally did manage to get the truck out!

Our other neighbors R. and L. were also on hand to help — L. has a Bobcat with a front-end loader (his regular plow attachment was broken) which he used to plow the snowy roads. Thank god for L.!

His wife R. was very helpful also; she had strips of tar-roofing material with sandpaper on one side to help the tires gain traction in the worst spots.

R. suggested that we get OUR car out of that mess at the same time as well, since we needed to leave for the Central Valley the next day. She and D. helped me push our little Scion (with chains) over the bad ruts and James got it safely up the hill.

Whew. What a quagmire!

I was a funny sight on Monday, trudging up the muddy, slippery road through the woods with my classic French horn “snail” case in one hand, and knapsack in the other. James carried our bag of shoes, since we were wearing our Mukluk snow boots. We just had to get off the hill for my first rehearsal with the Modesto Symphony that evening!

This was my first time playing with the orchestra and I didn’t want to cancel because of snow; they might not call me again.

We walked a half-mile to where James had parked the car. This is almost as good a story as the all-too-familiar one about having to walk six miles through the snow to school.

Well, not quite as good, but it’ll do.

After the evening rehearsal in Modesto, we drove up to my brother’s house in Sacramento to stay overnight, and then came back to The Woods on Tuesday morning.

We decided to park the car in the same place at the top of the hill, because the roads were still quite slippery yesterday.

This afternoon, we walked up the hill to the car with my suit-bag containing my concert “uniform” (white tie and tails, to put in the car in preparation for tomorrow’s return to Modesto for the remaining rehearsals and two concerts Thurs-Sat.) to check on the ruts and overall condition of the road.

The road is a bit better today; the ruts have dried out a little and the mud has frozen over somewhat, so we drove the car back down to our place and feel confident that we can get back out in the morning.

It’s amazing how much easier it was to walk up the hill this afternoon, in contrast to our snowy, muddy trek on Sunday.

We’re very glad that we were able to bring the car to the barn today, so that we won’t have to carry our big, heavy cat Rupert in his bulky carrier-cage (along with my horn and a bigger bag with our clothes for three days, since we’ll be staying in Sacramento) a half-mile up the hill tomorrow!

Our neighbor R., who is somewhat of a local activist, suggested to us that we form a “road association” with the other neighbors to solve these issues with our little dirt roads — we could add drainage pipes, some support for the edges and gravel on the worst sections. This is an EXCELLENT idea to which we agreed wholeheartedly.

There are finally enough “cool” people living in this general area now, who can implement these ideas effectively.

I look forward to living the “other” part of my life, my professional symphonic one, over the next few days.

But then it will be a distinct relief to get back up the hill to our little Slice of Heaven In The Woods on Sunday!