The White Mile
In late January, I posted a blog lamenting the feeble winter of 2010.
“Some people say February is the toughest winter month,” I cawed, annoyed with faded green grass then visible all over my neighborhood. “I hope that’s the case, and the gods of winter decide to punish puny mortals of the Northeast with a couple trillion snowflakes.”
I’m glad the seasonal lords read my blog, and have rewarded my patience for punishment with a big day out for winter. And I thank them for dropping about 50 million snowflakes in my driveway — a swath of white that I cleared during a one-hour push-and-lift regimen this morning.
There were probably six inches of snow on the 40-yard path next to my Albany stronghold. Unfortunately, it was the heavy, water-loaded snow that feels like you’re lifting wet cement. This is the snow cardiologists fear the most; guys can get in trouble fast lifting and tossing these 30-pound pieces of cake.
I’m happy to report I acquitted myself with honor. While my friends Marc Schultz, Mike Goodwin and Teddy Oberman all have snowblowers, I defeated the storm in old-fashioned fashion: One man, one shovel, one work detail. I’m a traditionalist, after all. And nothing against modern inventions like the snowblower and dishwasher, but I have not yet invested in either technology.
My friend Hop-Sing, who works in the composing room of this newspaper and is eternally squawking about lifting thousands of pounds of iron in his gym every morning, would have been crying bitter tears halfway through the shoveling exhibition. I could feel calories burning with every big dish loaded with solid white. And I took my time, figuring many repetitions beats speed on a snow day. It was a hardy workout that wasn’t too hard on the heart.
Speaking of heart, my neighbor Tim Arnold approached during the early part of the project and offered the services of his electric snowblower. I didn’t want him to drag the thing across the street, find a place to plug in and chew through the snow. So I thanked him, but took a rain check. Another neighbor, Dino Barbato, has actually warmed up his snowblower on my driveway in the past. Takes him about 15 minutes, and I can see the value of a machine that gargles snow and then coughs up big, white sprays.
Especially when 40 yards can feel like a mile when only one shovel is on the job. Fluffy snow weighs as much as cotton candy, and I can finish off light stuff in 15 minutes. Wet snow is more annoying, and as kids we used to call the sloppier version “good packing” snow; I suppose lads and lasses off from school today will build solid, indestructible snowmen and forts.
Before this most recent storm, I had only been on clearance duty three times this winter. I shoveled the fourth time Tuesday night, as the storm’s first phase faded. This morning’s snow job was No. 5. And the way the weather boys are fretting, sequels six, seven and eight will go into production soon.
Click HERE to see the finished job. And come back tomorrow or maybe Friday, and I’ll see if I can post a picture of the driveway when it is back in white, refreshed with another foot’s worth of February souvenirs.
My aforementioned friend Hop-Sing has often expressed his desire to die in the gym, around age 85, while trying to clear 300 pounds in a bench press. I tell him by that age, it might be more like 75 or 100 pounds that seals his doom. As for me, at age 54, I will probably not press my luck against the gods of winter much longer. I’d hate to keel over at age 80, shovel in bony arm, during an eviction proceeding for another 50 million snowflakes.
So in the next year or two, I think I’ll buy myself a snowblower or thrower for Christmas.
The dishwasher will wait — I’ve yet to hear about anyone expiring in a soapy sink full of plates and Palmolive.