The Weatherman

Tim Barton
Equipment Editor
tbarton@eTrucker.com

He was headed west through Wyoming, and the weather was coming at him.

The day had been blue and clean, a January day whipped and sanitized by a steady wind from the north. His trailer was light now, and he fought to keep it straight against the crosswind. But the road was as clean as the sky, and he thought he might make it across and through the mountains around the Utah border and down the big hill into Salt Lake before the sun fell and the clouds and the sunless sky locked together like the snow.

He thought it was too cold to snow, but the bite of the wind died a little near sunset. The weatherman was saying snow and falling temperatures and wind. The wind kicked up again, and the steady line of dark cumulus from the north and west let loose. In an hour the snow was freezing into thick valleys on the road. He could see the taillights of the truck in front of him moving from side to side and the wheels churning the loose snow on top of the frozen, throwing it up and making ruts.

There was a shallow angle to the snow. It came straight across the road and slid to earth through his lights like geese landing millions at a time on a frozen lake, hitting the ice and tumbling, squawking in surprise to find the water hard. There was a weight to the snow, a deep, palpable reality to it like the weight of sleep just before the mind follows the eye into darkness.

He was not tired. The storm had its adrenaline that kept him awake, aware of every small movement of the truck and how the wind began to push him despite the weight of the load. He had heard his turbo wind up on the last uphill, and his manifold pressure gauge rose too quickly for him to believe he had much traction. The westbounders behind him were saying the road was closed a few miles back. Just before the Hole in the Wall, he got off.

There was no truckstop, just a small café about 100 yards west of the underpass, closed up tight. He did his log and crawled into his bedroll fully clothed, hoping to find the patience to sleep through the energy the storm gave him and the wind moving the truck.

Despite everything, he fell asleep quickly and began to dream. In his boyhood he had wanted to be a weatherman, and now it had come true. He knew the weather, the clouds and their shapes and what each type of cloud meant. He could see it coming, all of it, all the weather coming long before it fell to earth. He could see the weather ahead of him, and he could see it anywhere he wanted to imagine. He knew it was raining in Miami and that tomorrow the blizzard would continue along the Big Road where he slept. It would lift about noon, and the roads would open. Back home in Boston the bay was frozen over for the first time anyone could remember.

He awoke and knew that he had dreamt. He remembered it all, and it felt real. The sun had come up, but he knew it only because the morning light was leaking through a small, temporary crack in the clouds. The snow fell straight down now, and there were lights in the café. There was no traffic on the road above him.

He went inside, and when his coffee came he walked over to see the weather on the television. The Big Road was closed, according to the waitress, and the announcer said it would open about noon. It was raining in Miami, and the bay in Boston was thick with ice. He drank his coffee and walked to his truck. He went back to sleep and did not dream. When he got up he could hear the traffic above him, but the snow had not stopped.

It was 10 in the morning, and his log said he should be moving. He went inside for another coffee, and the television showed blue sky from Key West to Jacksonville. In Boston, it was warm enough to rain. He left the coffee and started driving, looking for the eastern sun behind him, wondering when the dream had truly ended.

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