In the fall of 2020, my husband and I moved into an historic, two-story brick building just off Winterset’s town square. We can see the Madison County Courthouse from our front windows!
Last winter, during the early hours of what was the first of 3.5 major snowstorms, our longtime housework helper, Brandy, arrived. “Looks like we’re in for a big one,” I said. (The forecast was for six to eight inches.)
“Yes,” she responded, “Matt will be up all night.”
I knew Brandy’s husband was on the City of Winterset street crew, but I didn’t know about his special, post-blizzard duty.
Our town square is a classic. The courthouse (built in 1876) sits at the center, with nose-in parking all the way around. Retail and other commercial storefronts surround the courthouse on all four sides—three out of four also with nose-in slots. During major snow events, the city plows a path around the square so cars can get through; some businesses close, some stay open, and people park as best they can. Only after 11 p.m., when parking isn’t allowed on the square or on the blocks just off it, can serious snow removal begin.
Turns out Matt is the guy who operates the loader that scoops the snow into the trucks that haul it out to the soccer fields, dump it, and come back for more.
That evening, well after dark, I heard back-up beeps and big-truck engine noises outside. I walked to the front of our building, looked through the windows, and texted Brandy: “Is Matt driving that big yellow thing?” She responded with a thumbs-up.
I watched Matt scoop up a giant shovel-full of snow, back up, deftly swivel the scoop over the bed of an idling dump truck, and drop it in. He repeated the process until the truck was full and pulled away. A second dump truck moved into position. I texted Brandy again: “Tell Matt I’m bringing him a snack.”
I loaded a sandwich baggie with cookies I had made that day, put on my boots and coat, stepped outside, and flagged Matt down (between scoops). He opened the door, and I handed them up. “Thanks, Marianne!”
During last winter’s other snowstorms and the single one we’ve had (so far) this year, I timed my cookie-baking so I was ready for Matt.
During deliveries, I always stay safely away from the trucks until Matt is at a full stop and can see me before I wave to him and step into the street. Sometimes I catch him on our block; sometimes I cross the intersection and intercept him on the square itself.
My little ritual now involves two baggies of cookies—one for Matt and one for the colleague of Matt’s choice.
I love your town square and was able to visit a number of years ago when the Fons & Porter store was there. My husband was on business in Des Moines, and I had flown up from Dallas to spend a few days with him and we drove out to Winterset to see the town and some of the covered bridges. He spent a lot of time in Des Moines and would tell me about the winters, since we are both native Mississippians and I’ve never yet seen that amount of snow at one time! We thought that his job would eventually take him to Iowa long-term, but we were both a little relieved when it didn’t, because of the winters! We are now back in Mississippi, where many of our town squares look like Winterset’s. I absolutely love the Midwest, probably because it reminds me of home in many ways. The people are wonderful. Also, let me say that I basically learned how to quilt from you and Liz when I started back in 1997 or so, and it’s something I enjoy today almost every day!
Janet, my mother, Dorothy (Little) Graham, was a Mississippian, born in the tiny town of Rockport, south of Jackson.
You are so lucky to live on the square. It is such a lovely area and must bring back feeling of days gone by. Danny and I were there back in 2016 after attending the QOV show in Des Moines. We were lucky to be there at the right time to see the parade. Several locals were standing next to us. They were the kindest and most friendly folks…I would have packed up and moved to Winterset just because of them.
And to thank you live right there! You lucky dog you!!!
As a retired rural mail carrier, I know how much those little baggies mean on a difficult day, or any day for that matter. I have shed tears and asked myself what I am doing out delivering mail on bad roads. Then someone left a cup of coffee or some cookies in their mailbox, making me think, “This person understands.” Thank you for understanding what life is like on those days. (Past President, Iowa Rural Letter Carriers’ Association and quilter)
OH, that is so sweet of you!
Small town living at its best! Bet those cookies are much appreciated. I love seeing pictures of a CAT machine in action, my family has had people working at CAT for over 50 years.
You do SO many good things, big and little, for SO many causes/reasons/people! (Insert heart emoji here . . .)
Ester Mae Cox
This is superb! You are the best community supporter I know!
I love Winterset! When I visit family in Mt Ayr we try to make a day trip to visit your town! Love the stores and Chinese restaurant is amazing!
Delightful, so caring, I actually do this too. When the weather is bad and we get a delivery from FedEx, UPS, I quickly pack a bag of cookies or brownies to hand to them. Makes me happy to see them smile, and I feel so great. Recently we had a mattress delivered and we gave them cookies and bottles of water.
I so enjoy reading your emails.
Marianne – Your thoughtfulness touches so many hearts (and obviously stomachs). Are you be able to share this cookie recipe with your readers so we can do the same?
Hi Nancy, I make various kinds of cookies during the snowstorms, no specific one. Matt likes them all!
I love this story, Marianne! Thank you for sharing it with all of us. 😍
I love this so much. What the world needs now is cookies, sweet cookies.