Among the presents under the tree on my ninth Christmas morn was a shiny new snow shovel with my name on it. The shovel was a little smaller than the giant scoop Dad used, but it obviously was intended for serious work, not as a plaything.
I became intimately familiar with the duties of an only son in northern
Calls for "snow relocation" seemed endless during the long, cold winter
seasons. I was expected to answer. Our house was on a corner lot bordered by
concrete sidewalks. There was no need to go to the gym for exercise.
Much later, we lived for 16 years in a townhouse within a homeowners association in
Monthly association fees covered snow removal. I never tired of cheering on the
workers as they removed the white stuff from our driveway and sidewalk. Having
long ago mastered the art of battling snow drifts, I was pleased to leave the
job to others.
Nearly seven years ago we moved to southwest
Michigan. We had visited
the neighborhood of choice several times--never in winter. I noted with a
degree of satisfaction the absence of sidewalks in the rural community.
Responses to questions about winter weather generally took the tone of
"not too bad." I thought clearing a driveway once in a while would be
Snowfalls indeed were "not too bad" our first several years in
They gradually worsened. Last winter they were awful; this season has been
worse, reminding us that weather runs in cycles. We may be in for a long and
unpleasant series of winters featuring large and frequent "lake
It turns out I perhaps should have worried more about driveways than sidewalks when searching for a new home. Our driveway is long and about three times as wide as the sidewalks that surrounded my boyhood home. Rough measurements indicate a big net gain in concrete area from the days of my youth when shoveling was tiresome. Now it just plain wears me out.
I compensate by hiring trusty neighbor
Chad to remove the heaviest stuff (as much as eight or ten inches several times
this winter) with his snow blower. When accumulations are only an inch or two,
son Lee, beautiful wife Sandy, or I take care of things by hand.
So far this year,
Chad has cleared the driveway ten
times. The "Klade shovelers" have done the job eight times. It has not
been a lot of fun. The last time I pushed a light, one-inch accumulation out of
the way the temperature was 9 degrees F. What's forecast for tomorrow? Most of the weathermen think we'll get up to
three inches of new snow followed by ice showers and then freezing rain. Should be
they're planting gardens. In Utah
they're playing golf. In Michigan.
. . Argh!