Walsh’s Wonderings — Blowing Snow

Snow on a weekend feels wrong. I still feel snow should only fall on weekdays between four and 11 a.m. when school can be cancelled.

Still, I stared at the three identical cans of gas in my garage while preparing for this weekend’s forecasted snow, each with an unquantifiable amount of petrol sloshing around the bottom. I had no idea which one had the freshest gas, but I knew some of that propellant was old enough to legally buy a beer. Like most things surrounding snowfall, I’d just have to hope for the best.

Shoveling my driveway is always a battle between my neuroses. I grew up believing I had to immediately shovel two tire track paths down the driveway in case an ambulance (hearse?) needed access. I still do it.

My head explodes with calculations at the drop of the first snowflake: Can I wait until all the snow has fallen before I start shoveling, or should I break it up by doing it halfway through the storm? When is “halfway,” anyway, and how many forecasts should I triangulate to determine the optimal snow-clearing window? Do I hold off until the snow plows have stopped for the night or scream in frustration as they push all the road snow back onto my driveway with every pass? If I shovel and it starts to drizzle, will it freeze into an ice rink by morning?

My neighbor Cindy says she doesn’t bother shoveling her driveway because it’s wasted effort. “Either it snows again just after I finish or it melts the next day. My car gets through snow fine.” Cindy has one of those short, flat driveways that always gets the sun and is the envy of every person wielding a shovel. I hate Cindy a little when it snows.

In a concession to age and sloth, I bought a snow blower 20 years ago. Now, in a concession to age and rust, I can only use it sparingly. I have a friend who keeps it running in spite of its infirmity, but the heavy snows of these past weeks have forced me to try new things to manage the workload. Toward that end I donned a pair of gloves and lubed up the snow blower. It didn’t help keep the snow from sticking to the blades; I might as well have covered it in lip balm.

I can’t feel my arms because of the old girl’s vibration. I’ve taken to wearing two sets of mittens just to stop my hat from shaking off, but most of them have holes because they’re older than Home Alone-era Macaulay Culkin. Digging through the bin where we keep our gloves and hats is like tunneling through a damp, yarn-filled Valley of the Kings (with just as many dead things discovered inside).

It’s probably time to replace my snow blower, but the one I’ve been looking at was just recalled because of the “risk of amputation.” (Thought I’d be able to get one of those cheap after that, but no luck.) Instead, I’ll try to keep my old machine alive long to see spring. In the meantime, I kind of hope Cindy slips on the ice as she heads to her car. Nothing serious, mind you, but enough to humble her into shoveling like the rest of us.

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