I was thinking a lot about mobility during the last snowstorm. Not necessarily how people move on snowy, icy streets – that subject has been addressed on these pages before – but what happens to some grown adults when confronted with a snowy field and some mud.
Across the street from my house is a field that seems to draw ATVs and four-wheel drives. I'm sure the farmer is cussing the culprits who rutted his field after the last storm. The entry to the field now looks like it was used to film a Mad Max chase sequence.
A truck, much like the one I drive now, was slowly pulling onto the pavement from a muddy road two days ago. I could not tell what color the truck was because it was thoroughly covered in mud. All I could think was how fun it must have been to get that much mud on that vehicle.
I understand the impulse to gun an engine and dig a deep, circular track in the snow and mud. I don't think that urge has subsided since I first spun circles in a muddy puddle with my Honda 50 minibike.
For me, that urge is now controlled. The consequences outweigh the joy of the thrill ride. I don't want to spend the time or the effort to dig mud out of the undercarriage of my current ride. But the urge and the memories linger, strongly.
I bought my first car when I was 14 years old. It was a Volkswagen beetle. When I got it running, I was careful to stay on the dirt roads around the house, but nothing more. I didn't want to mess up the new-to-me car unnecessarily.
That changed when my dad jumped into the driver's seat. The first thing he did was say, "Hang on. These things can take a beating."
He drove into a plowed field and proceeded to breakdown any number of large clods that the disk had pulled up. It wasn't long after that I was taking it out to see how sharp I could take a turn in a muddy shallow.
I've had several automobiles since then that were actually built for clod busting or mud bogging, but none have been as exciting as picking up speed in the old VW so I could make it up an icy hill or through a flowing wash. In retrospect, I pray that kind of driver isn't coming through an icy intersection that I am trying to carefully traverse.
My current four-wheel drive certainly doesn't have the gritty connection to the raw earth that the old beetle had. So, the other day as I was looking out the window at the snow and mud, I thought how wonderful it would be to have another old VW Bug to rev up and charge that icy hill.