In the dark of night, it silently slithered toward the back of the car, spray painting the windows with a sheen of opaque white.
It made its way around the car, finding the seam in the doors and filling it with surprisingly strong epoxy. It glided down to the ground and sucked some of the warm air out of the tires. The car was trapped on the driveway with no way to fight off this unwelcome intruder. If its alarm could have gone off, it would have warned us. But, no, that alarm only goes off early in the morning on the weekends, when someone opens the door with the key instead of deactivating the alarm system with a button, annoying the neighbors and embarrassing our kids and us in equal measure.
It slid under the hood. It paused over the heart of the machine, looking for places to extend its icy fingers into the exposed engine, snickering with delight at the opportunity to turn 3,000 pounds of metal into a frozen couch.
It reached into the battery and deactivated the power.
On my way to the car, it issued a warning, or was it a challenge, when it wrapped its icy fingers around my neck. I tried to ignore it and stick with my routine. When I turned the key, however, the car coughed weakly.
“Come on,” I pleaded, as the cold scraped its icicle hands against my exposed calf. I tried again. The third time was not the charm, either.
After getting a jump start, I decided to outsmart the wretched cold. I cleared space in the garage, hauling all the heavy items parked there into the basement. The garage door and the walls of the house would offer greater protection. No, I wasn’t giving the car a blanket and pillow and setting it up with reruns of “Knight Rider,” but I was protecting the family car.
The next day, I went through the basement into the garage, put the key in the ignition and beamed broadly as the internal combustion engine roared to life. Ha! I foiled the frigid air. I told the kids to climb in the car, which warmed up rapidly as a reward for keeping it in the garage, and drove triumphantly to school. The cold wouldn’t undermine my day, I thought, as I maneuvered through the responsibilities of the day.
When I returned home, I found that the cold had recruited my garage door to its unworthy cause. I didn’t look carefully enough when I had pulled away from the house. The garage door, fooled by a small piece of snow in the corner of the floor, thought it had hit something and reopened, where it stayed all day.
I pulled the car in, closed the garage and waited for the door to close. When the metal door reached the ground, it reopened. I played a short game with the door, pushing the button just after it started to open again so that the cold air had only a small opening.
“I win,” I announced as I entered the warm house.
When I turned on the water in my bathroom the next morning, I realized I had lost. The combination of the cold from the open garage from the day before and the small crack at the bottom of the door was enough to enable the cold to lay its frozen hands on my pipes.
Several hours later, the plumber, who was busier than a foraging ant during a Fourth of July picnic, shivered in the garage and proclaimed the small opening under the door as the culprit.
This cold snap, which finally left the area earlier this week, won this battle.