Dick's View: My Daily Drive to the Office
When I started working in radio, I was in northern Canada. A place called Churchill on the southwest shore of Hudson Bay. The radio station was five miles down the shore from the townsite. I worked the morning shift which meant I had to get up a little before five am. My little yellow Capri was often the first car down that road.
In the winter it was cold, often 40 below. One rule was you'd always start the car before you started the coffee so by the time you packed yourself into your parka the car would be warm enough to drive. Because it was so early, I never left myself enough time - and I'd often drop myself into the driver's seat before the car was warm. By the end of the first winter the vinyl seat cover was so cracked, it looked like someone had slashed it with a knife.
Off I'd go on my five mile drive to the station, and I could go as fast as I wanted because no one else was up yet. That's when I saw my first real Arctic Sastrugis.
See, the shoreline was all boulders - smooth, round, and immense. Some were as big as a house. So on the mornings when the wind was just right, it would whisk the snow off the frozen bay, between the boulders, and build these high narrow drifts across the road, sometimes taller than the car, and never more than a couple of feet thick. At that temperature the ice crystals are so fine - the snow is impossibly light, and it's like dust. I'd roar through these sastrugis with all the glee of runner breaking the ribbon in a race. The snow would explode around the car and swirl behind me like white smoke. It was great way to start the day. I was at the controls of a spaceship, a racecar. I was in another dimension. And all - on my daily drive to the office.
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