Recovering in the snow

 

Do you prefer any particular type of snow?

When I was a kid, I wanted the wet and heavy snow to fall. The kind that works best for building snowmen. The kind that packs best when you pile it up and try to hollow out an igloo. The kind that makes great snowballs. (Snowballs that you wonít be allowed to throw at your sisters, no matter how much theyíre acting in a way that would justify it.)

Every so often, I talk to people from different places about snow. It usually comes up with people that have never seen it. People from warmer areas that would like to experience it. And for them, my guess is that even though the snow itself would be a show, for the most part they fall into the snowman, snowball, snow angel groups. The complete fun-day-in-the-snow experience.

As Iíve gotten older, my thoughts have spread a bit as far as snow is concerned. I still live in a place where a handful of storms each season are inevitable. These days though, my usual thoughts are focused on cleaning up.

Iím fortunate, in that we usually use our garage for getting in and out of the house during the winter months. This in turn means I donít have to worry much about shoveling. Most of the paths donít need to be cleared. As long as I make certain the grill is accessible, the finer points of cleaning up are almost all checked once I get the cars cleared off.

The result is that we focus on the snowblower. And, perhaps surprisingly, I prefer the wet and heavy stuff as a result.

I know. Might seem crazy. When it comes to dealing with shoveling and clearing snow, light and fluffy seems like an obvious choice. But have you ever tried to use a snowblower on light and fluffy snow when the wind begins to pick up? Basically, the snow heads up the chute, hits the air, and explodes. * POOF * The fluffy snow at times will carry with the wind, but usually it just blows up into a massive cloud and scatters. It hits you in the face, gets into any open areas of clothing, and more often than not the majority of it settles right back on the driveway. (And if you are trying to send it against the wind, just give up and head back inside until the wind dies down.)

The heavier snow will carry, even into the wind. Cleans up and moves nicely thanks to the snowblower. I like that. But thatís not to say heavier wet snow is preferred all around.

We have a satellite dish on the roof of our house. Get into the roughly-about-freezing temperature range, bring in the snow along with a bit of water and a bit of ice, and it is not at all uncommon to lose reception. If you want to feel foolish on a cold winter day, try trudging through a few to several inches of wet, heavy snow with a ladder in your hands. Nothing like it. Quite the feeling of wrong-place-disconnect to arrive at the corner where the dish sits above you on the roof, lean the ladder into place, and begin climbing with something in your hand to assist in wiping off the dish.

The end result is that I never know what to expect, or what the best situation might be for any storm. This might be easier to clean, while that might mean more to do, and the wind and water and freezing and so on just makes an already wonderful situation a bit tricky.

We use oil to heat the house. Tankóbecause, of courseósits on the far side of the basement when compared to the location of our driveway. And, it turns out the oil company likes to have a path to the tank clear when making deliveries. I try to pay attention to the tank, especially at the beginning of the winter, and every so often during the colder months. Why? So that if we do need oil, I can make arrangements to have it brought to the house at a time when I donít need to break out the snowblower and use it on the lawn to create a walkway. That tends to be a fun little project when needed.

We got about a foot of snow this weekend. Off and on flurries have followed with an additional few inches, and high winds are sweeping immense drifts into existence while covering already cleaned spots, and itís a never-ending mess. Itís also the light and fluffy kind, so that swirling, pounding wind and deep freeze greets those stepping outside to clean it up. Lots of fun. And yet, it doesnít necessarily matter.

There is no perfect way of recovering from any storm. No great day of the week or fantastic hour for the snow to arrive. No preferred amount on the ground for the tools to use.

Whether you are looking for fun, or an easy time in the driveway and paths around the house, all you can do is hope for the best. (And be prepared for the worst.)

 

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com