She Stands In The Snow And Waits

March 2, 2011

Last Friday I had occasion to drive to Olympia (Washington) to help out a friend. That is to say, I drove to Springfield (Eugene, Oregon area) and met up with her at her daughter's home, then rode with her up to Olympia, where we rented a car trailer and I drove back to Springfield, hauling her daughter's broken down Mustang on the trailer. Then, after unloading the car and turning the trailer in at the local U-Haul dealer, I got back in my Cherokee and drove home.

I had left my house that morning at 5:00 a.m. while it was still quite dark out. The sun rose just about the time I hit Highway 58. It was cold, snowy, blowing snow, kind of icy, and there was at least three feet of snow on each side of the road.

At precisely 7:00 a.m., basically in the middle of nowhere, I happened to glance to my left and notice her standing there in the snow, waiting for her school bus at the entrance to a snow-covered road or driveway that led off into the sparse Lodgepole pines. The only thing marking the driveway was a short piece of wooden three-rail fence on each side of it. No mailbox or other marker. No house was visible from the highway.

In the brief instant between realizing someone was standing there and then being past her location, I was impressed with the following thoughts.

She must have a lonely life. She looked about 15, must live alone with her parents. No siblings, or if she had any they were too young to go to school or too old to still be at home. Living that far away from anyone else, or any town, she probably rarely had any school friends come by to visit and she was too young to drive so probably rarely got to go hang out with any of her friends. She was probably cold - she wore no hat or hood.

I traveled eight more miles before meeting her school bus coming the other way. In that eight miles, there were no other driveways, no other kids standing anywhere waiting for the bus. The closest school is in Gilchrist, which is probably about 25 miles from her driveway.

Oddly, I felt sad for her.

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