There are far better things ahead than what we leave behind.
— C. S. Lewis
Peace . . .
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.
Bubba just got in from snow-blowing six inches. And it’s still snowing. I never mind a spring snowstorm. He might disagree.
A spring snowstorm reminds you of how much you want the spring. It imprisons you in your house for a day and heightens the anticipation of warm walks and buzzing bees. A spring snowstorm is old man winter boasting his strength, even under the lengthening days. Even in my weariness of cold and boots and shoveling I must admit it’s pretty. And I have to wonder if this is the last pristine white snowfall until next year. It’s like wishing a toddler would grow, and at the same time trying to appreciate each day.
Is this the last time you’ll help him with his boots?
Hopefully. Sorrowfully. Maybe.
It occurs to me that those living closer to the equator may not have the luxury of appraising neighbors on methods of snow removal. By closer I mean closer than one of the northern-most United States of America. Mention you are from Minnesota, and people immediately conjure images of wolf-like dogs racing across an open tundra, a parka-clad rider mushing them on in search of the next meal of blubber.
Yeah, it’s something like that. Only I’m in my Dodge Neon, the dog has positioned herself on the center console looking out over the dashboard, and I’m on my way to the supermarket. Sure it’s cold, and there’s snow on the roads. It’s Minnesota. It’s winter. Get over it. The minute a flake falls from the sky, everyone wants to know what the roads are like. My answer? “Eh . . it’s winter.”
And with the season comes the practiced art of snow removal. Minnesotans have been removing snow for centuries. Technically, the snow is not removed. You can’t remove snow unless you bring it inside, melt it and flush it down the drain. No, we move it. From here to there. Sometimes, we have so much snow to move that we scoop it up in front loaders, empty it into dump trucks and haul it away. I’m not sure where they go with it, but if it were me I’d haul it to California.
While snow in the city comes with parking bans, tow trucks and impound fees, in the suburbs it’s all about what your neighbor is doing. Why should winter be different than any other season? As soon as the lawn is covered, and they can no longer judge the green of your grass, they will begin to analyze the white of your driveway.
Technically speaking, if one does not remove the snow from one’s driveway, the snow will eventually remove itself. However, if your intention is to leave the snow until it melts in the spring, after driving over it and the fluctuations in temperature, you’re going to end up axle-deep in frozen ruts going nowhere fast. I think all Minnesotans can agree that some amount of snow movement is necessary.
You have several options, offering various stages of effort and cost. You can buy a shovel or hire a kid to shovel you out. You can buy a snowblower, or hope a neighbor brings one over. Some people put a plow on the front of their truck and not only plow out their place, but make money plowing out others. My dad used to take out his four-wheel drive with the plow on the front and drive around looking for little old ladies shoveling their own driveway or families stuck in the ditch. His pay was the smile on their face.
Once suburbanites have chosen our option of snow removal, we are obligated to assess our neighbors’ methods and motivation. It is safe to say that a homeowner can be accurately labeled by the driveway he keeps.
Me? I’m inside huddled next to the space heater. The chimneys across the street are emitting a steady flow of horizontal steam, communicating a cold, steady wind against a sunny blue sky. I can hear the rhythmic scrape of Bubba’s shovel, his black toque bobbing occasionally above the window sash. He finally invested in a snowblower this year. And as Murphy’s Law dictates, I think we can forecast a fairly light year for the stuff, rarely dropping enough to start it up.
Maybe that makes me the smart homeowner.
Peace . . .