This morning I backed out of my driveway, slid into a snow pile, and got stuck.

The snow pile was a ridge of packed snow left by a passing plow. It had started out fluffy and white, but after a few thaw-and-freeze cycles it was stiff and unyielding, stained with car exhaust, the color of bruised fruit.

My wheels spun.

I rocked the car, I turned the front wheels into the snow, away from the snow. I got out and kicked the frozen hillock. None of it helped. I was well and truly stuck, and my car was blocking my little street.

I looked up to see a delivery truck coming around the corner. I looked in the other direction to see an enormous pickup truck coming down the hill.

“I’m stuck,” I said to the young man who climbed out of the delivery truck, as if it weren’t obvious. Behind me, the pickup truck slowed to a stop and a woman leaned out the driver’s side window. “Want me to pull you out?”

Pull me out? You can do that? “Yes, please.”

She got out of the truck with a fat chain and attached one end to the underside of my little car, the other to her truck. She was wearing a hoodie and sweatpants. No gloves, no hat. She was not dressed for the weather.

I asked her if she lived nearby.

“One house over. It’s the house I grew up in. I just bought it.” She stood up. “My furnace when out two days ago. We’ve been heating with space heaters.” She nodded toward the delivery truck.  “They’re bringing me a new furnace, but they can’t get up the hill, so we’re going to put it on my truck and take it in the back way.”

I got into my car, shifted into neutral. Felt the chain go taut, and just like that I was dragged backward out of the snow pile.

Her name is Tara. She lives one house over, in her childhood home. For the past two days in near-zero temperatures she’s been without a furnace. I hope her new one went in without a hitch, and she’s warm tonight.

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