Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Whole New World

I'm back with my Blizzard of 2011 Saga...

So. Tuesday night, after an early release from school due to the catastrophic blizzard warning that began at 3 pm, just in time to really mess with afternoon carpool, I kept looking out the window at the car in the driveway to gauge how much snow had fallen since the start of the warning. Hour after hour, snow churned in the wind, blowing almost sideways, but none seemed to be landing... the car had less than an inch on it. Finally, I went out to shovel before bedtime, anyhow, figuring... if the predictions were correct... I'd want a fresh start in the morning.

I had waited entirely too long. I hadn't accounted for the blowing and drifting that kept the snow from landing on the top of the cars and roofs. I had well over six inches to shovel, as task at which I persisted for an hour before help came out and we made short work of the bottom (and easiest) portion of the driveway. By that time, by the way, the top of the driveway already had about 2 additional inches of snow on it. I couldn't bear the thought of starting over at the top of the driveway, where the wind was coming in from over the roof and then circling down and around, like a perfect surfing wave, blowing snow up in my face. Totally tubular, dude. But this is all my way of telling you that my shoulders were already a bit sore, the skin on my palms a bit red, when I came downstairs Wednesday morning.

School had been cancelled the day before, so we set no alarm. I awoke with the sun around 7, which is quite a bit later than my normal weekday schedule, and went downstairs to find a changed world. I opened the garage door to find a wall of snow with a perfect garage door print in it. Donning all my winter gear -- which does not include snowshoes, because usually they aren't necessary here -- I climbed through the snow barrier and emerged alone into the still-falling snow. No one else in the neighborhood, human or otherwise, had ventured out yet.
The depth of the snow varied from a foot in some places to drifts taller than me in others. Above, our snow gauge, which I believe has numbers up to 2 feet, is covered almost to its top numbers. (Today, just due to compaction, it's already a few inches lower.)

The wind had sculpted some amazing features into the ephemeral white landscape... fins and twists, hills and valleys... it was... is... magical, beautiful, transforming. Clean and sparkling, it was like an empty canvas when I first ventured out. So lovely and inviting.

Until, that is, you realize that you are in charge of shoveling it. Then it becomes somewhat of a pain in the... shoulders, arms, and lower back. I spent an hour digging out one trail from the garage to the street, just the width of a snow shovel . An aisle to freedom. And then, "rest," cried the chief shoveler. And I took a break.

During my rest, I discovered that our heater was not actually producing any heat. Um... Sucky any time, really sucky when no one can get in or out AND the predictions for the following night were sub-zero. Turns out, the pipes to the outside world where the heater gets and releases air were underneath the lovely snow sculpture shown below. My husband put on his snow gear, which does include snowshoes, and proceeded to dig out the 6-foot drift that blocked the pipes. The heater works again, thanks to him, and only at the cost of one screen... a small price to pay for heat in the weather we're having!

Heat functioning, I went back out for shovelfest: round 2, over an hour of excavating, but the problem was, there were no places left to move the snow to. The piles on the sides of my driveway were taller than I, and definitely taller than I could continue to lift snow. I watched as neighbors emerged, everyone digging, stopping to chat and watch the kids and dogs creating a snow playground out of the 15-foot pile that the plows had left in the cul de sac center, and then resuming the toil. Other people pulled out snowblowers after they had made escape routes, but we have always liked the scrape of the shovel, the exercise, the rhythm, the accomplishment of manual snow removal. My parents passed on their old snowblower to us years ago, but it's broken and we never bothered to fix it to a state functionality. (Oops. Lesson learned, sort of.)

At any rate, round 2 got frustrating. Feeling a burn with every load of snow removed, it seemed like I was getting no where. I would be at this all day and never get a swath wide enough to get the car out by school the next day. (At this point, I still believed there would be school the next day, today.) Eventually, help arrived and, once again, the shoveling was finished in somewhat short order. Well, it did take a while to deal with my dad's car, which we sort of got stuck in a snowbank due to our trying to carve the narrowest path possible for it to curve out of, backwards. But it wasn't stuck too badly and we got it out, no harm done, in case he's reading this.

And then, we had a day and a half left to enjoy the winter wonderland. Or to cuddle on the couch with a book.

So this storm? Not a bust. As my young neighbor friend put it as he jumped off the top of the snow structure, (yes, onto the pavement) "BEST SNOW DAY EVER!!!" I find myself hoping more will fall. I like holing up. I like the quiet. I like the admission -- by me and everyone -- that nature has out-powered our technology and our whims and we're changing plans and staying in. I like the adventure...)

I should mention, my husband is not normally the type to allow me to toil away alone for hours on end at something like snow shoveling, but he, like many at our school, caught a bug that sort of knocked him out.
OK, must go drink the last how cocoa before the single work day tomorrow (and then, it's the weekend! Crazy!)

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah, nature nerds yeah! I'm going to go ahead and follow :]