Blowin’ And Shovelin’

It was only a few days ago when our thermometer was approaching the 70-degree mark, but I and no doubt many others knew we weren’t out of winter’s woods yet. As I type this (early Sunday evening), I can see the snow falling out my front door being pushed by a healthy west wind, while our street remains unplowed as of yet. Will there be, at the very least, a late start to tomorrow’s school day? I would surmise the kids are in their rooms pretending to sleep while waiting for the phone to ring with District 518’s automated announcement.


I had been planning on firing up the snowblower in the morning — and almost certainly still will — but much to my surprise wound up doing just that around 5 this afternoon. Bec had run out with Grace to do a little shopping, and it didn’t take her long to realize that she probably should have run that errand earlier. Roads were, by both their accounts, perilous, and though they did make it home without incident, Bec couldn’t avoid getting stuck in the street while trying to pull into our driveway. Out went the snowblower to clear the driveway and part of the street in front of it. Still, that didn’t do the trick entirely, and it took a couple of strong pushes to help get the Equinox out of its snowbound position and headed toward our one-car garage. (Bec’s vehicle is the one who gets sheltered. Fellow men, are you familiar with this type of arrangement?)


It wasn’t long ago that I was strictly a snow shoveler, as opposed to a snow blower. In our previous Worthington residence, we had a long narrow driveway that seemingly extended halfway to Bigelow, so it didn’t take long while living there to purchase a snowblower. Still, I initially struggled with the dang thing. Those who know me even a little bit are probably aware that I’m not exactly a “Tool Time” type of guy, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I soon became accustomed to avoiding what seemed like a hassle of running the snowblower when I could just head outside with the shovel and get going right away. I’d often find a way to rationalize this — “there’s not that much snow” or “it’s good exercise,” or a combination of those two sentiments, were commonplace. But this winter, thanks probably more to Bec’s insistence than anything else, I’ve been using this friendly gas-powered implement whenever necessary. Now I just need to learn how to do a little maintenance on it … though that’s probably a subject best left for another essay on another day.


Still, I can’t help but look back and recall how, for the first 29 years of my life — my pre-Midwest days — neither I nor anyone in my family owned a snowblower despite living in New York state. My brother and I helped shovel out the driveway and the sidewalks as kids; it was a right of passage and later an important responsibility. I even survived a winter in the Buffalo, N.Y. area without a snowblower, though I do recall a neighbor blowing snow for virtually everyone on our short block during a couple of particularly bad storms. In North Dakota I was a renter, and driveways and walkways were cleared for me. As a Minnesotan and homeowner, no such luck.
No such luck — that comes to mind with tonight’s weather. It also wasn’t terribly long ago that more than a foot of snow was expected to come our way — a snowpocalypse! — and yet we got a little less than four inches. As of right now, anyway, the prognostications appear right on target. The question is this: Will the snowblower be started up for the final time of the winter tomorrow morning? If I had to answer, I’d simply point out that the state high school boys basketball tournament still remains on the horizon.