It didn't take a kid growing up in northwest Wisconsin long to realize that, pleasant as the respite from the cold might be, a January Thaw was bad news. We may have been throwing snow into higher and higher piles for a couple of months, but it was snow. Ice was a different story.
Icy, dangerous sidewalks. Icy, slippery roads, with the ice often of the no-see-um black variety. A January Thaw never lasted long, and the people were glad. Let new snow bury all that ice.
Saturday morning, as I backed out of my garage into the alley, ice was far from my mind. That changed in a hurry when my futilely spinning tires sang: "Abandon all hope." Before long I managed to end up crossways across my alley, my tires trapped in icy ruts made all the more slippery by the film of water freed by the miserable 45-degree temperature.
Abandoning pride as well as hope, I called Helena Towing Service. The guy said he could help, but warned it probably would cost at least $75. Had he been within reach, I would have answered with a hug.
He arrived 45 minutes later with a big bag of something called FloorDry, made for cleaning up machine-shop spills. He had me turn the wheels right and left as he spread the stuff, and suddenly I could back into a neighbor's yard, pull into the alley (heading downhill this time!) and scoot off to run my errand.
It was an expensive lesson, but I learned it well: FloorDry. Never back out of your garage without it.