Monday, March 02, 2015

Let It Snow, Let It . . . Argh!

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 Wisconsin. 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 Utah. 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 good exercise.

Snowfalls indeed were "not too bad" our first several years in Michigan. 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 effect" snows.
Reaching the end of our driveway on a snow removal day is cause for celebration (or soaking in a tub and a nap).
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 weather gurus think we'll get up to three inches of new snow followed by ice showers and then freezing rain. Should be wonderful.

In Idaho they're planting gardens. In Utah they're playing golf. In Michigan. . . Argh! 


Jhawk23 said...

Can't "argh-ue" about your thinking on this. We usually get much less snow here in Virginia, though when we do it tends to be heavy and wet - a pain to shovel, yet snow blowers aren't always very effective.

Our driveway is much shorter than yours but it still represents the lion's share of the work. As I contemplate simplifying life, I have considered just NOT doing the driveway at all, but haven't quite made that decision yet.

Marc Leavitt said...

We had a driveway like yours; used to take me about 2.5 hours each time (I know the right way to shovel, and how to pace myself), and I HATE it. Whenever possible, I hire it out. A good friend of mine from high school, moved to southern Maine many years ago. Fourteen years ago this non-smoking, healthy 60-year-old started to shovel his snow,and dropped dead of a massive heart attack. It's not a fun job.

PiedType said...

Here in Denver, I no longer shovel the driveway at all. With an AWD car now, I just drive over it. And I've only shoveled the sidewalk once this winter. It mostly melts/evaporates within a day or two anyway. The law says clear the walks within 24 hrs after a storm, but that's a little ambiguous. I'm daring the city to come to this little old lady's door and demand she shovel her walk ...

Anonymous said...

There is a shift in the weather pattern, for sure. We haven't had this kind of winter since the "little ice age" of the 1960s, which in VA was piddling. Michigan has nice programs for seniors I hear, apparently it doesn't include snow removal.

Dick Klade said...

Dianne--Michigan once was an excellent place for retirees to live. However, two years ago our Republican governor proposed and the GOP-controlled legislature accepted a whole new tax structure that eliminated, over time, tax exemptions for all pensions and substantial state credits for property taxes paid by seniors.

The result is that some retired people are moving away to take up permanent residence in warmer climes.

Luckily, we were old enough to be grandfathered against most of the tax hit. Unless at least some of the tax increases are rescinded, as the grandfathered oldsters die off most seniors who continue to live here will face pretty tough financial situations.

Michigan used the tax increases on seniors to fund big breaks for corporations, a maneuver that so far has done little to attract new job- producing businesses to the state.

Anonymous said...

We don't get a lot of snow here in SE England, but I do have an American cousin who lives in up-state New York where they recently had snow 8 feet deep ! Just think. He could have settled in California.