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ALISHA BREWER NELSON: Tamp Down the Snow Before You Go Pee

Let me tell you a story about snow. And about not listening to your husband. And the consequences thereof.

The first time I came up to our new mountaintop land was in January 2008 after my husband had already bought it. So exciting! Our very own homestead! The place was under a blanket of beautiful, fresh snow. Stunning! I had grown up in Houston, Texas so snow was a new, delightful thing to me.

Little did I know.

My husband Butch, my stepson Jay and I came up to the property to have a proper look around. We were tickled to find an old, log miner’s cabin that had yellowed scraps of newspaper on the walls dating back to 1911. There were also signatures and notes on the walls from people who had visited over the years, some as old as 1913. Very cool!

After exploring the cabin, we all decided to sit down and rest for a bit – the trek in here on snowshoes had been long and difficult. I realized that I needed to pee so I told the boys I was going outside to potty, please don’t come out there. As I was leaving the cabin, my husband quietly tells me, “Tamp down the snow before you go pee.”

Huh? Ok, whatever …. I go on my merry way, whistling, around to the side of the cabin to the small berm of snow where it had fallen off the roof.

Part of dressing for this kind of cold is learning the art of “Intense Layering”. I think I had 40 layers of clothes on at that point. Unzip coveralls and pull down, then the jeans, two pairs of long johns and well, you get the idea. I am bare from my knees to my stomach and it’s freezing!

So awful having to go potty when it’s this cold. Pretty much the only time I wish I were a man.

I look back at that little two foot high snow berm and (mysteriously) think, “Ah, that would be a good place to go.” Long clumsy snowshoes still on, I balance myself atop the berm and tell myself, “OK. Go. Before you freeze.”

As I am concentrating and admiring the view, waiting for my body to do its thing, I feel myself slowly tipping forward and have nothing to grab ahold of. I am thinking, “Well, when I hit the snow I’ll just put my hands out and stop myself.”

To my utter surprise, instead of stopping me, my hands go right through the snow and I keep going until my whole head plunges in! And guess what? My bare butt is up in the air. And I’m stuck. Great.

My snowshoes are still firmly on top of the snow berm, making my feet higher than my head, thereby throwing off my balance and keeping me from lifting my head up. To add insult to injury, when my head hit the snow, I gasped – and hey, did you know you could choke on snow? I am stuck, choking, freezing and desperately need to get my head OUT of there.

Bare butt sticking up in air.

Pulling my hands out of the snow, I put them back on top of the snow and push. All that happens is that my hands go right back down and my head doesn’t move an inch. I am still choking, can’t breathe and …

Bare butt still in the air.

I am getting fairly alarmed at this point by a few things.

First I am TERRIFIED that my 25 year old stepson is going to come out and see what all the commotion is (I can’t do anything quietly.). Second, I am wondering what my face will look like after they deal with all the frostbite. Third, I am not only choking, I am now kind of laughing because I can see how truly funny this looks. Kind of like an ostrich except for the sand part and no feathers on my butt. And lastly, I’m FREEZING!

Bare butt STILL in air.

STILL haven’t peed yet.

I finally realize that pushing myself up with my arms isn’t going to work and that I am going to have to fall over in the snow just to get my head out. Still in the same position, I am actually having an argument with myself.

“But I don’t WANT to fall over in the snow. It’s COLD!!”

“But you will suffocate and DIE here if you don’t. Is this really how you want to be found dead? With your naked butt in the air and your head planted in snow?” (As funny as that would be …)

“Well, no. Of course not but I’ll be laying semi-naked in the snow and it’s just so miserable.”

“Just DO IT!”

So, over I go and oh man, talk about COLD and gasping!

I am however relieved that my head is finally free even though I am still choking and making quite a ruckus. To my horror, I then realize that not only are my snowshoes hopelessly entangled but that I chose to fall over facing towards the door of the cabin where my bare butt is still completely visible. “Please God, don’t let Jay come out here. We’ll never be able to look each other in the eye again!” To get my snowshoes untangled takes quite an effort – bringing them up off the ground (better view of my rear!) and thrashing away, hoping that they will just LET GO.

STILL haven’t peed.

“WHAT is going ON out there??”

“NOTHING! DON’T come out here!!” (Choke, hack …)

I finally get the shoes apart and lay there just exhausted for a moment. I manage to stand up, turn rear AWAY from front of cabin and notice that I have snow in my collar, under my shirts, in my sweater, coveralls, long johns and jeans. I then notice that my butt is now a very pretty shade of purplish red and quite numb. (What if some of it is frostbitten?! Is that going to make sitting down an issue??) I also realize that …

I still haven’t peed.

“Forget THAT!” I don’t even bother to get all the snow out of my clothes before I pull them back on. I just want to get inside the frigid cabin – which is at least somewhat warmer than outside. My hair is completely wet and hanging limply at my face. I am a bedraggled, worn out mess. I stumble through the door, lean back against the frame and sigh loudly.

My sweet husband quietly says …

“TOLE you to tamp down the snow.”

– Alisha Brewer Nelson is a city girl learning to live off the grid on a mountain in Montana with a country boy. She says it makes for an endless supply of funny stories, even if they weren’t always funny at the time . . . You can follow her on The Roanoke Star as well as her blog:

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