This being the time of sharing, let's put aside our traffic woes for the day and take a look at some helpful intentions from a former New Englander: Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a 15-year veteran of northern Vermont winters, I read your column with fascination about the metropolitan area's difficulties in dealing with snowstorms.

Back where I come from, when the weather service says "Snow," it is exactly that. Whether they say four to six inches or 12 to 24 inches depends on many factors that influence depth, such as temperature, elevation, winds, and if you're near water or not. Logically one would think that if one is at a high elevation, there would be a deeper snowfall. This all depends on temperature and moisture ratios. The ideal temperature for snowfall is 28 to 36 degrees. A lot of times, if you are near water, such as the Washington area, you will get a larger snowfall than farther inland because of the moisture levels: The humidity keeps the storm in because it maintains the perfect temperature for snow.

I've listed some well-known weather indicators known to northern Vermonters, which may help your readers down in D.C. Ring around the moon: Will snow tomorrow.

Ring around the sun: Storm coming, usually a squall (heavy, but short).

Small, dry flakes, falling fast: Will snow for a long time, probably all day.

Small, dry flakes, falling slowly: Storm possibly ending within three hours. Watch temperatures and size of flakes.

Large, wet flakes: It's getting warmer, snow will end soon.

Brightness in sky: Clearing, storm will end soon.

Continuous gray sky: Stay home, get out the Monopoly board.

Temperature dropping: Snow will end soon. Get home because roads will freeze.

Temperature rising: Snow will end soon; could begin to melt. If this is midday, plan on leaving before nightfall as the roads will start to freeze when the sun sets.

As soon as the snow begins falling in Vermont, the plows go out and the cars stay home. This, of course, is a safety factor, but also because the plows are spreading salt, and nobody wants salt underneath their cars.

If you must go out, try to get behind a plow -- and stay there. Drive in the snow (not in someone else's tracks), and slowly, maintaining a constant speed. Minimize braking, using the engine downshift if possible. Avoid any sudden turns (such as lane changing), and give yourself plenty of time to exit on ramps. If you sense ice under the snow, and are approaching an intersection, begin braking with short, quick taps on the brakes. Should you go into a skid, let the car go into the direction of the skid. Do not use the brakes until the vehicle begins to straighten. I've had some wild 360-degree spins on major highways. When in doubt, head for the ditch -- not another car.

Vermonters are very friendly when it comes to helping out someone in a ditch. Every car should be equipped with:

One bag of sand for traction, both on and off the road. One sturdy snow shovel, for obvious reasons One warm blanket or sleeping bag, hat, mittens or gloves, flares, alternative footwear, in case you have to spend the night or have to walk. One set of jumper cables -- whether you are driving an '88 Volvo or a 15-year-old clunker. One set of chains, which can be used on tires or for towing you or someone else out. De-icer for windshield and frozen carburetors. {This is a chemical that helps prevent ice buildup. It's available at auto specialty stores.} Dry gas. {This prevent water condensation in gas line.}

From living in northern Vermont, one has to learn to become self-sufficient, which means being prepared for the worst situation. Because it is a rural state, one cannot always rely on services, such as plows coming through, or even another motorist showing up within the next hour or so.

Perhaps if the motorists in the Washington area became more self-sufficient, they could get themselves out of their ruts by helping each other. With a properly equipped car, they just might experience that wonderful sense of self-satisfaction of getting out of a spot by themselves -- or helping someone else. Obviously, the road crews and police cannot be everywhere at once, as indicated by the horror show on the Wilson Bridge on Nov. 11.

I think the secret to survival with any and all of the mess called winter is that it's only temporary -- it is all going to melt. So stay home, make some coffee, put your feet up. You can work tomorrow.

I hope this letter is of help to your readers. I spotted a "woolly bear" (caterpillar) up here in Winchester two months ago which was practically all black. I wish I could remember if this means it will be a hard winter or not. Perhaps one of your readers could help me out? LIZ HEMINGWAY Winchester

Thank you for taking time to write. There has been much written about the difficulty of predicting snow for this area, and of keeping roads clear. Maybe there's some help here.

The Dr. Gridlock column next Friday, New Year's Day, offers an opportunity for readers to serve up New Year's resolutions for local traffic officials to consider. To do so, write a few sentences -- one resolution per letter, please -- about a matter youbelieve is a concern to many people. An example: "I would like to see Maryland highway officials resolve to improve the intersection of Kenilworth Avenue and Greenbelt Road in Prince George's County because it confusing, dangerous and inconvenient." Mark the outside of the envelope "Jan. 1." We'll see if we can help officials get off to a good start next year.

Dr. Gridlock appears in this section each Friday to explore what makes it difficult to get around on roads, from misleading signs to parking problems to chronic bottlenecks. We'll try to find out why bad situations exist and what is being done about them. You can suggest topics by writing to GRIDLOCK, c/o The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Please include your full name, address and day and evening phone numbers.