the 5:25 a.m. jump start

I’m grateful for Derby. During the night thirteen more inches of snow fell and the temperature rose to -12.  When my phone rang at 4:45 a.m. I knew it’d be fishing guy calling to say his car wouldn’t start. Could I give him a jump and sorry for having to ask.

Smart-wool socks and hiking boots, fur-lined gloves. This is not the time for red mittens. When I opened my front door, the exterior storm door didn’t want to give way—snow almost to my knees was crowding the concrete landing. Outside, planet earth was spinning in a thick, silent peace. Muffled and wrapped in cotton batting. And a 19-year-old GMC, twice-wrecked, once-divorced, scarred Derby waited in my driveway. One turn of the key and he was awake. Ready and willing.

Willing. This is what I thought about on my long drive out to the country where fishing guy lives along the old Hardin highway. I drove through unplowed streets, knowing by rush hour cars would be stuck pulling out of driveways or turning at intersections. Shovels and sandbags. Come-alongs and tow ropes. But Derby was undeterred. Silly, I know, to think you can trust your beat-up ride more than you allow yourself to trust mankind. What the rest of the world hasn’t been able to teach me, this hunk of metal manages.


About redmitten

author of Cracking Geodes Open, Making Good Use of August, and The Peppermint Bottle. poetry editor for IthacaLit. website:

13 responses to “the 5:25 a.m. jump start

  1. Kerry

    Sometimes our vehicles are our best buds…I am smitten with my 4WD in these conditions and worry for her safety with all the idiot yahoos who think they can still drive like an idiot yahoo on snowy, slippery roads.I thought of you when I saw those freezing temps and should have added…’Sherry knows exactly!’
    When things snap off in your hand because of cold…thats bad!! Keep warm, throw another log on the fire and all.

    • redmitten


      i knew you’d have a vehicle as a best bud. i want to think derby will be with me for the next 40 years and knowing that isn’t possible, i already mourn (in the way we irish practice our grief early.). this vehicle saw me through all sorts of turbulence and i’d like to adopt this “willingness” until it takes to me more naturally. heh. and yes- poor saskatchewan is getting hit hard. the head editor to The Centrifugal Eye just moved there a few months ago from the Vancouver coast. i hope she’s managing and knows not to flip any switches outside until the temps get back to only 10 below.

  2. Wonderful read. Isn’t it strange that we give our cars, animals and nature more trust and love than people, sometimes. I would rather pack up my car and live in it than live with relatives and friends… but… It’s a good feeling to know that when the car won’t start at “5:25 a.m. in the morning I can call a friend for a jump start. That’s when you find out which good friends are really “good friends”.You must be one for the Fishing Guy. Stay safe.

  3. I love learning stuff from stuff! I love how the car has a name and the human is fishing guy. And, in random coinciday mode, I just sent an 80th-birthday card to the gas station owner guy who took care of (and from whom my dad bought, for $400) my first car, a gray Chevy.

    • redmitten

      hmm! i wonder if this means something where i name the ride but not the guy? and that is way cool you remembered the gas station owner guy. a main staple in life. my first car was a rambler named Two Tone on account of how the front end (white) didn’t match the rest of the car (that sixties green we don’t see much of anymore).

  4. at first i thought this post was titled “jump art”

  5. Cars and snow –not the world’s greatest combo.
    ‘Digging out’ not my favorite winter sport.
    However we expect our first snow here in NY this w/e (other than the freak
    inch we got in October).
    All best wishes

    • redmitten

      i remember the tons of snow yNY got last winter- i thought about what is involved in removing the snow- where to put it? digging out is not a good sport. here, the town plows the main streets, but in doing so the plowed snow clogs the intersections with minor streets and is also thrown back onto the sidewalks everyone is required to shovel. argh.

  6. Here in the land of weather light-weights, we mostly lack the context to appreciate such a trusted old friend on fair days and foul. But to put our trust in what has proved enduring is wisdom; it gives us a model that we can, perhaps, slide over and apply to parts of mankind. xo

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