I don’t know about you, good Folks of the North, but I think I’ve had enough for this year. Yeah, I know it’s “only” March and I know that still qualifies as winter in New England, despite the sleeping habits of some fat rodent in Punxsutawney. But, for my two cents, I think I’ve had my fill of snow for the venerable 2012-2013 winter season right now. Today. I mean, it is spring. Is someone not listening?
To be sure, it’s a pretty sight. Several inches of snow outlining the branches of every tree, covering the tops of rock walls, birdfeeders, and the heads of small children left out overnight. It really does create a winter wonderland. Until the plows come rumbling through, with their loads of salt and sand and turn that wonderland into a practical rendition of the roads you expect to drive on in the summer months. Complete with ugly mud hills on the side of the road. Can’t have it both ways, I suppose.
The sight of the season’s first snowflakes certainly border on the enchanted, generally falling here in New Hampshire around, oh, September or October. They’re bearable then – just enough snow to grab a few flakes on the tip of your tongue like you did as a child – and pray that nobody sees you doing that.
Then the first storm comes racing in. Kids get excited – every inch of snow that piles up gets them closer to a day off from school. Adults too succumb to the excitement of the first snowfall. It’s something different after the bleakness of bare trees and frozen fields that follows our spectacular fall foliage season. Of course, half of them aren’t prepared for it. They don’t remember where they stored their snow shovels. They waited too long to prep the snowblower. Or they forgot that their kids went off to college this past fall, so there’s no one else to do the shoveling except them. More than half will hop in their cars and drive to work, knowing that their normal 20-minute drive will turn into a two-hour drive that morning. But they’ll take the chance, because they don’t want to be seen as the wimp who couldn’t get to work that day, for fear of “a little snow”. And they will learn en masse, on a crowded highway, how to once again drive in the white stuff.
This year, I too survived that first storm. Miraculously, I had even prepped my old snowblower, which, like its owner, has become tired and finicky from years of winter storms, throwing snow shorter distances now and not at all during a really wet snowfall. But we gelled that first storm and both cut through the snowfall without a glitch. I think we had ten inches that time.
The next couple of storms were okay too. The snowblower faired well through the first, but the second storm was a manual shoveling operation. No problem – my driveway is built on a hill, going down to the road. I just dig a pathway down to the bottom, then turn and start shoveling up the hill. Save my precious back, bending only half the distance to shovel the side of a hill. Sheer genius, to my mind…
That fourth snowstorm this year was a doozie. Heavy, wet, and over a foot deep. Another shovel-only storm for me. Luckily, half way through, my neighbor saw me looking for a branch to toss a noose over and happily offered to plow the whole driveway, with two passes of his Ford F-150. Thank God, that God made trucks, huh? And neighbors like that.
The fifth storm this year (or was it the sixth or seventh, I’ve lost count) was an average one. Of the typical eight-inch variety. Once again, I shoveled it. Good exercise is always my rationalization. Plus, my daughter parks in front of the shed where my snowblower lives. But my back held up well. And the next few storms were minor so I scraped those down too – in my shorts, winter coat and boots. New Hampshire just brings out the country in me.
The last big storm saw me trudging out at around 8:00 a.m. to clear off the cars and as much of the driveway as I could. It wasn’t until I finished the cars that I realized the driveway had already been cleared. The telltale tracks told me this was the handiwork of another neighbor, “the snowblower guy”. Eternally grateful, I still wondered if maybe he just forgot which driveway was his…
Then came last week’s storm, which tailed off by Tuesday morning. Before I could even get to the driveway, that mysterious snowblowing ghost once again had cleared my hill. The guy apparently never sleeps, for which I am, again, eternally grateful. But I still had to shovel the walkways, which I did grudgingly – and gingerly, given my back. Then I sat down with a cup of coffee and it struck me that, while snow is indeed a beautiful sight, it really was starting to wear on my nerves this year. A storm or two is fine – it is, after all, winter…ahhh, spring… and I’m all for replenishing the earth’s water supply and staving off global warming. But if I have to shovel another foot of snow between now and Memorial Day, I think I just may go postal. Yep, that’s right – move right off into another postal zone. Somewhere far south, where my only worries would be jungle rot, rain, and tarantulas. Before I do however, can anyone tell me if they shovel anything in Belize? I just don’t want to make the same mistake twice…
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