The snow that’s been promised for days finally came late yesterday afternoon. Flakes so fine I could hardly see them in the fading light whipped through the frigid air and coated the edges of the rooftops of nearby houses. Glacial gusts chilled me and threatened to blow out the fire as I tried to cook some chicken on my gas grill for dinner.
Earlier in the day I had watched the storm through my car window as it began to ooze its way down and across the nearby foothills, swallowing them slowly in a light fog. I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch at a local restaurant. By the time we emerged from the restaurant and I was driving home again, the temperature had dropped drastically. The foggy mist of the approaching front had caused the mountains to disappear.
It’s now a day later and all that snow hasn’t come in quite the amounts the weather forecasters led us to believe was possible. I did go out and shovel my driveway, for it is a balmy 7 degrees Fahrenheit, and is not expected to get warmer anytime soon. There was about five or six inches of snow, but the bottom two were slush turning to ice, and it was a minor battle to get each shovelful to let go of my plastic shovel.
I didn’t go to the gym this morning, but by the time I was through shoveling I had had an equivalent workout scraping slush, especially off the stairs to my front door. I want people to be able to come to my house without ice spikes on their boots. It’s days like this I feel sorry for myself sometimes. Why doesn’t my son, who lives a whole two miles away, offer to come and shovel the snow for me?
My daughter, who was living with me at the time, did shovel the mountain of snow off the driveway once because I couldn’t figure out how to start my own snow blower. I have since learned the trick to starting one. Here’s a kicker on snow blowers…they are relatively useless on slush. So that left me feeling bereft this morning as I broke the icy crust under the snow off the cement. The snow had landed on warm ground at first, melting and then freezing as the temperature plummeted.
The friend with whom I mentioned having lunch and I had had a long conversation about this very subject. “We need to stop relying on other people to take care of us,” she said. She and her boyfriend had just had a harrowing experience over the past weekend, ATVing in the snow and getting irreparably stuck out in a wilderness area. They had no other choice than to hike out as it got dark and the storm approached. She is a widow whose husband had taught her to always pack her own survival stuff, but here she had let the boyfriend do it for her.
“I should have had a headlamp,” she lamented. “I should have had firestarter. I know better than to do this, but it’s so easy to let other people do for us if they offer.” I thought she was being a bit hard on herself, but then she had just been in a potentially deadly situation. She freaked out a bit on the hike out. She cried as the dusk turned to pitch black. She thought of bears when they heard crashing noises in the dark forest.
“I think it might have been because I had a sympathetic ear,” she surmised. “I might have acted differently if I was alone.” In the end they were able to get help and got home just fine. I never would have made it out, period. I would have left my body long before in sheer terror.
“She’s a brave soul if there ever was one,” I thought as I dug the snow on my driveway. My idea of “wilderness camping” is to pitch a tent in the camping area of an RV park, where there are flush toilets and hot showers, and it’s maybe a few hundred yards to a beach. My friend is a rider-trainer for people wanting to learn to ride motorcycles. She works for Harley-Davidson. The closest I’ll get to a motorcycle is the leather jackets in the Harley-Davidson store on the selling floor. Compared to my friend, at least in the physical challenge department, I am a world-class chicken.
I stopped feeling sorry for myself as I dug my way along. “Hey, I am lucky I really can shovel my own driveway,” I thought, “I can feel my heart pumping but chances are excellent I’m not going to be one of those people who has a heart attack a few hours after they stop,” I continued. Thanks to my aforementioned friend I have been going to the gym regularly for the last couple of years. My only excuse for not getting out there today would be that I was too lazy, not incapable.
“What if the snow was even too deep for the snow blower?” you might ask.
“Well, hey, a few bucks in the hands of the teenagers across the street…and voila, clean driveway. I can always borrow someone else’s kid.”