Monday, March 21, 2005

To whom much (snow) is given, much (shoveling) is expected

Sorry, for the long break. I'm still trying to find a balance between real life and blogworld. Real life always wins, which is how it should be. Besides, it was the weekend, and you expected me to sit in my basement office, blathering away about politics and culture, while outside there's so much shoveling to do? (There's always shoveling in blogworld, of course.)

Anyway, what did I tell you about March?

Friday an honest-to-goodness blizzard blew in, knocking us back to January. And Saturday morning we awoke to discover a smooth, flawless ocean of white covering the front yard from house to street, with no discernable lines of demarcation separating the yard from the sidewalk from the driveway.

I kissed my wife and child goodbye, and headed outdoors to start the process.

The drift in front of the garage was easily surmounted, but the snowblower was not in proper working order anyway, so out came the cheapie shovel.

On the last few trips to the hardware store, I have had my eye on a very fine shovel. A veritable "Firebolt 3000" of a shovel, with a price to match. Here's where my practical side always triumphs. I cannot reason spending $30 on a shovel no matter how good it is. In the end, it's just a shovel, it has a humble purpose, and there is no good reason one needs a Lexus when a Chevelle will do.

So a couple years ago I bought the cheap plastic Shovelle, merely as an auxilliary to the snowblower. Snowblower for the driveway and sidewalks; Shovelle for the steps.

But with the snowblower on the fritz, the Shovelle has been pressed into service for the heavy jobs.

"I'd help," my wife said, "but we only have one shovel."

"That's okay," I said, "I don't expect you to be shoveling snow in your condition anyway," I added, achieving both chivalry and martyrdom in one brief statement.

And it was bad. Heavy, deep. The biggest snowstorm we had all winter. In March.

Oh, how I groaned and complained! (Or was that my back?)

I also battled with envy as neighbors up and down the block started their snowblowers and quickly and efficiently cleared their driveways. Didn't they see me struggling? Couldn't they spare just a few moments to help their neighbor in distress?

Last year when my snowblower was working just fine, I would clear the sidewalk on our whole side of the block. You'd think one of my neighbors would return the favor.

Across the street, Sam was clearing his steps with his own shovel. If not for me, how about for Sam? Sam's the patriarch of the neighborhood. He was the first resident here back in the 40s. I couldn't believe these people with snowblowers would let Sam try to shovel all the heavy, wet snow from his driveway.

I kept my eye on Sam as I contined to shovel. Just in case he went down, I wanted to be ready to call 911. But then the guilt started in on me. What kind of neighbor was I that I let this elderly gentleman shovel his own driveway? Shouldn't I set aside my own shoveling to go help Sam? I continued to shovel, thinking bad thoughts about the people with snowblowers and then thinking bad thoughts about myself.

And then I looked up and noticed that Sam had disappeared. Had he fallen? I craned my neck to see if I could spot him sprawled on the sidewalk.

And at that moment he came out of his garage pushing his own snowblower.

So I started thinking bad thoughts about Sam.

Then a neighbor from a few houses away started clearing the city sidewalk, slowly making his way down the block. Hooray! My telepathic thoughts had been received! He cleared his own sidewalk, . . . then the sidewalk in front of the house two doors down . . . then the sidewalk in front of our next-door neighbors, . . . and as he reached the edge of our driveway where our property line began, . . . he turned around and went back up the block. He never came back.

So I grabbed my shovel, ran up behind him, gave him a sharp whack on the head, and laughed maniacally as he crumpled to the pavement.

No, not really.

Instead I turned back to my bitter task, figuring I could really play up the whole martyr angle later. My back is just killing me, honey. I think I need to just lie here on the couch for awhile, okay? Oh, say, about three hours.

I finally cleared the driveway just before we needed to leave for my sister-in-law's.

Which, unfortunately, was just before the plow came by and blocked the end of the driveway with an enormous snowbank.

I don't know if I'll get the snowblower fixed before spring makes itself permanent, but if we get another snowstorm, I'm getting the $30 shovel.


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