Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Snow Galore

December 9th, 2008

A local waterfront park after a winter snowfall.
©J. Gracey Stinson
So, what actually happened on December 9th, 2008?  It snowed. It snowed a lot. It snowed some more. I shoveled. I shoveled a lot. I shoveled some more. That’s it in a nutshell. Okay, okay…that’s hardly interesting, I know. But that is what happened. It started snowing sometime through the night on the 8th, and when I crawled out of bed in the wee small hours of the 9th it was still snowing.

Early that morning our angel of a neighbour across the street appeared in our driveway with his snowblower. Around 11:30ish my husband went out and shoveled again…oh yes, it was still snowing.

Early afternoon I started putting on my duds to go out and shovel again since my husband and gone off to check on my aunt, do her errands and clear out her drive and walkway.  Just about then a truck showed up at the end of our drive with a brand new snowblower on the back.

Just before we went off on holiday my husband bought a new snowblower – we’ve had snowblowers for years, but last year we spent a fair chunk of money on the old one, and every time my husband tried to use it, it broke down again.

I spent most of last winter getting to know the snow shovel better. The poor guy delivering the blower got stuck in the street (we hadn’t seen a snowpough on our street yet that day) and some folks got a little irate that he was blocking the road. Apparently, folks have forgotten that we live on  a crescent…simply back up and go around the other way.

Better yet, grab a shovel and help the guy dig himself out of the snow the city had yet to clean up instead of yelling at him to get out of the way. Winter can sure bring out the worst in people.

After managing to get his truck moving again he backed up into the drive and off loaded the blower. Well there it sat – shiny, new, and annoying. Up here, blowers are a fact of life – there are times when you just have to have one. Me? I prefer the shovel. The blower scares me; it chews up everything in it’s path…snow, sometimes ice, newspaper, rubber balls, gloves…whatever happens to be there under the snow.

They’re also loud, and guzzle up gas. A shovel…well, that’s quiet and doesn’t cost me anything except a little energy to use (okay, pretty often it’s a lot of energy, but it is good exercise – last year I built a nifty set of back muscles.)

So, I’m looking at this new blower and comparing it to the old…somehow, it doesn’t look as big and it doesn’t seem to have the “presence” the other one did. And…it’s bright red. It just seems so…wrong. We’ve always had a John Deere blower (“nothing runs like a deere”) – green and yellow and recognizable for what it is – quality. Sadly, sometime between our last new deere and this purchase, John Deere stopped making snowblowers.

So, while the new one was purchased from the John Deere dealership, it ain’t no Deere. After staring at it a bit, I stepped back to the porch and grabbed my snow shovel. I don’t know how to use a snowblower anyway, and if I did, I’d probably still avoid it – there’s no muscle building involved in that.

As I was shoveling I could hear the sounds of blowers up and down the street, and of other shovels. I stopped a minute and looked around; two doors “up” the lady of the house was out shoveling; to my right the lady of the house was shoveling, at the next house to hers, that lady was shoveling. As I was looking, the woman right next door to my left came home and grabbed up her snow shovel. Humph. All women…all the women were shoveling. I thought there must be some sort of social commentary in this, and went back to shoveling.

About 2 hours later, just as I was finishing up the roadway at the end of the drive, the city snowplough comes by and leaves a thick ridge of snow, close to 2’ high right where I was shoveling; he buried all the garbage bins and recycle bins along the street (oh, I forgot to mention it was garbage day and I had just finished digging the bins out of the snow). I moved over to the edge of the drive and dug out the bins again, and slowly continued along the ridge – when the snowplough leaves behind it’s droppings, they are usually thick, heavy, and chunky – large blocky chunks of ice and snow. It’s the heaviest work of all clearing that stuff.

As I was finishing up my husband finally arrives home. He’s delighted with the snowblower and fires it right up. He starts using it on our driveway. Okay, yes, the snow was still falling, and had fallen the entire time I shoveled so there was thin skim of snow on the drive, but it hardly needed the blower.

I sent him next door to clear the snowplough droppings – that poor woman had spent over an hour trying to clear her drive with an electric snow thrower (small, not very powerful) all the while trying to watch her baby that she’d brought out and stuck in her van in his car seat – with the van running (not to worry, it was outside and she kept a careful watch on him). By the time she got to the doors of the van she’d had enough…and I’m not sure her cord (electric, ya know?) would have reached much further anyway.

When the plough came by she did come out and grab the shovel, but quickly realized it would take more than a few minutes and went back inside.

Anyway, I sent him over there to clear out the end of the drive and dig out the garbage bins. While he was doing  that I headed across the street to the angel neighbour and started digging out his recycle bins, which were all but buried. I managed to get them out and watched as my husband came over with the blower to start on this drive. He had an interesting style with that blower, he walked back and forth from the two houses across from each other, clearing the drives and the street. Between us both, we managed to clear up both drives.

Then he turned the blower down the street to see if he could help out some of the other shovelers while I went inside to remove my clothes (now soaked through completely). He came in a scant few minutes later – the blower had run out of gas.

We have a friend who lives where the snow doesn’t go, and he’s always saying how much he loves the snow…I wish he were here. After a day of this, he might be glad to live in the south.

©J. Gracey Stinson

One other thing happened that day – no two. As I sat down to write my journal entry, the power went off. Thought for sure it had blown my old monitor cause it wouldn’t come back on. As I prepared to go out and buy a new one, it decided it still had a little life left and came on – oh, the power was on but the screen was blank (yeah, the computers were on…I can be a dimwit sometimes, but  not that big of one).

I decided to send my husband out for fast food – I really didn’t feel like cooking by then. The closest place was the A & W over at the plaza. He came back with 2 papa burgers (they were on special), which I normally don’t eat because there’s two burgers on them, but I hadn’t eaten all day, and had expended a huge amount of energy and I was hungry. I set dinner out on the table and sat down with my husband…his burger (with pickles, onions and the things he liked) had 2 patties; my burger (plain) had one. Just what I needed for the end of the day…

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