The windshield of my pickup suddenly became a wall of white. At the same moment, I felt an abrupt loss of momentum and the cab of the truck began to tilt at a nerve-wracking angle. The pickup’s engine sputtered and died. The only sound was the unrelenting roar of the wind.     
    My goal had been simple. I merely wanted to drive the 2 miles from my mom’s farm (where we kept our dairy herd) back to my house so I could have supper with my wife and our two young sons and sleep in my own bed. Not too much to ask, I told myself. And, it was not except during a nighttime blizzard in South Dakota.     
    I had heard stories about people who had become stranded in their vehicles during previous blizzards and had railed against them. “Idiots.” I said to anyone who would listen. “Stupid fools. It would serve them right if they were billed for the full cost of their rescues. We could call it a voluntary imbecile tax.”     
    And, now – oh, the irony – here I was in the same predicament.     
    I calmly assessed the situation. It was darker than inside of a black cow at midnight. The temperature was expected to drop to 20 below zero, and my truck was low on gas. On the plus side, I was dressed quite warmly. Even so, I reckoned my fingers and toes would be icicles by morning.     
    The distance back to Mom’s house was only three-fourths of a mile. Should I attempt to hoof it? So what if I did not have a flashlight? Didn’t I know the lay of the land like the back of my hand?     
    I thought about my Norse ancestors and how they had left their comfy longhouses to colonize new territories. Would they have let a little snow and wind stop them? Heck, no.     
    My courage thus steeled, I opened the door and stepped out into the full fury of the storm. The wind. It could rip the very breath from your lungs. The windchill was almost 60 below zero. But, how long could it take to walk three-fourths of a mile? Ten minutes? Certainly I could endure it for that little while.  
    I set off in the direction of Mom’s house – northward and into the teeth of the storm. My forehead began to throb like an ice cream headache. I held my gloved left hand up by my face to slow the wind. The hand quickly became numb.     
    “Follow the road,” I thought. A simple enough task except that nothing was visible in the snow-choked darkness. Not a single landmark or yard light could be seen. My searching eyes were met by a black, windy void.     
    What if I wandered off the road? I knew what they would say when they found my frozen carcass. “Idiot. Stupid fool. Why was he out walking in a blizzard at night?”     
    As a child, I had feared the dark. I had imagined carnivorous monsters lurking in the shadows, waiting to nab foolish little boys who ventured from their beds for a drink of water. That same all-encompassing darkness clenched me in its suffocating grip.     
    The storm spoke to me in ghostly voices, voices that would now taunt, now beguile. “Idiot,” it screeched. “Even the Vikings knew better than to walk out into a blizzard at night.”     
    The wind whispered seductively as its icy talons sank into my quivering flesh. “Stop. Rest for a while. Just lie down for a moment, and you’ll feel refreshed.”     
    I ignored the voices and pressed forward. Would this night, this winter never end? Was I doomed to wander forever in this frozen purgatory?     
    An unseen snowdrift caused me to stumble and almost fall. Or, was the Grim Reaper making a sport of me, grinning with glee as he tripped me with his scythe?     
    Onward I trudged. Surely I should have gotten there by now. How long had I been walking? Was I lost? Lord, I was cold.     
    The wind seemed to gradually subside. Was my imagination playing tricks on me? I lifted my eyes and beheld the most beautiful sight: the milky smudge of the farm’s yard light. I had made it. That was a piece of cake.   
    I nonchalantly walked into Mom’s house, acting as though I had been out for a pleasant evening stroll. As expected, I received a good tongue lashing for causing everyone to worry. I was ordered to call my wife who was described as being beside herself.     
    “That’s the trouble with womenfolk,” I mused to myself as I dialed the phone. “They always imagine the worst.”
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.