I just went out to start my car. Humming a merry post-Christmas tune and noting the clear frosty air, I planned to do a few errands. I put the key in the ignition and turned it, and heard that one and only sound of silence that I fills me with dread: the sound of no click, no whir, no hum rhum. It’s just the sound of a key turning and then, nothingness. I hate that sound, or non sound as the case may be.

I can remember my father kicking the tires of our old Army surplus Jeep and shrieking unprintable words as it sat on our driveway, refusing to make a sound. We stood on the driveway contemplating the approaching temper tantrum. He was going to be late for work; we were going to be late for school; nobody was going to be happy. I can hear him complaining to my mother that the “stupid car” wouldn’t start if it was one or more degrees below zero, which was always.

I see it as one of the stages of winter. The earlier, nicer stages, which we passed some time ago, involve the great feeling of bundling up. My flannel-lined snow pants feel so good against my skin. My gloves within mittens keep my fingers toasty warm even though it takes me 10 minutes to get my seatbelt to click while wearing my bulky finger ware. My fleece hat that flattens out any bounce in my hair while at the same time making me look like an alien visitor, feels so snug on my ears. The extra long scarf winds around my head making sure to cover both my nose and mouth, leaving only my eyes exposed to the frigid air. And my knee-length down parka completes the job.

The few snow storms we’ve had so far have been easy on us. An 8-incher is a piece of cake to clear from the driveway and sweep off the deck. The snow blower is savoring its new sparkplugs and seems downright happy to do its job. There’s plenty of wood in the cellar and the oil burner absolutely springs to action when we are impatient to get the chill out of the air. The ice has been salted and melted and has so far been manageable.

So, what’s with this stupid car? Nobody can find anything wrong with it, except that it chooses not to start every now and then, especially when it’s one or more degrees below zero. When we bought this vehicle we were told that it’s first home had been in Arizona, the used-car buyer’s dream: no rust. But maybe it developed a taste for the warm dry air before its relocation and can’t appreciate the colder temperatures,

At this stage of winter I think we’re going to have to do the unthinkable: buy some jumper cables. Up to now we’ve taken advantage of our generous neighbor who gets the silent creature to respond with a stern look and a jump from his well-behaved red pickup.