The Intellectual Type
I am more the intellectual type than a snow-shoveler.
"Hey! There's a brawny fellow I'd sure like to see shovel some snow!" is not what you would say should you spy me from afar at some chic bôite.
So when we got 14 inches of wet, heavy snow in Vermont 14 months ago, and I finished shoveling our long, steep driveway, I said - never mind what I said.
I went out and gave a guy seven $100 bills for his snow-blower, is what I did.
Since that day, it has not snowed in Vermont. Oh, it's snowed a bit from time to time, but never so much I could not clear the driveway with a broom.
Early Thursday morning, as I watched the sun rise on 6 inches of wet, heavy snow, and the snow kept falling like a (bad word here), I said to myself - never mind what I said to myself.
I edited the Courthouse News page, is what I did, and a splendid page it was.
When the snow let up I trudged down the driveway to the garage, in the short grace period before the howling wind arrived with the precipitous drop in temperature.
This is all true.
I am 61 years old.
And I am, as I said, more the intellectual type.
We have an excellent road crew in our little town, and when it snows they plow the roads with enormous scrapers that leave a 2- to 3-foot crust of frozen slush at the bottom of my driveway.
Traditionally, they do this when I am down there, and the salt slush pelts me, like all the sins of the Norsemen come to visit me at once.
You cannot shovel through this wall of icy salty slush at the bottom of my driveway. You have to hack at it with the shovel blade, break it up and pitch it into the yard a piece at a time. Napalm is preferable.
Roughly 11,500 Americans are treated every year for injuries suffered from shoveling snow, according to Scientific American. An average of 97 of those poor shlubs die every year. The figures are for 1990-2006.
Upon opening the garage door, I found that my used snowblower weighs roughly 4½ tons, and packs about 9,000 horsepower.
These figures are not exact.
It had sat there in our extra garage for 14 months, with a quarter of a tank of gas in it, unused, unstarted, un-(any verb goes here).
I scratched my aging head and tried to remember how the damn thing works.
Our road department, for some reason, frowns upon people who blow snow from their driveway back into the roads.
And the Post Office, for equally obscure reasons, refuses to deliver mail after a snowstorm unless you clear a path to your mailbox.
That's the pathetic situation to which our nation has been reduced. The Post Office won't plow your driveway, not even up to the mailbox. You have to do it yourself.
So, garage door open on 10 inches of snow, wind picking up, I fiddled with buttons and switches. Pumped some gas into the carburetor. Pulled the cord.
And it started right up.
Holy cow! I said. Or words to that effect. And headed, bump bump bump, to the driveway.
That baby threw the snow right back in the direction it came from.
I never had so much fun plowing snow in my life.
It doesn't get right down to the asphalt, like you do with a shovel, but who cares? Even Cleopatra and Nefertiti had their imperfections. So I am told.
After finishing the job, I went inside and called my friend Mark, who told me, 14 months ago, about that used snowblower.
"Mark," I asked him, "is it legal to marry a snowblower in Vermont?"