I never owned a snow blower…until yesterday. That means I lived almost 25-thousand days without one. I never once wished I owned one, because that would mean I’d have to be out in the cold snow…well…blowing it.
For 11 years, when we lived in Arizona and Georgia, there wasn’t really any snow to blow, so that’s more than 4-thousand days right there. When we moved up to Michigan from Georgia back in 1989 the house we lived in for 25 years had a long, straight, double-wide driveway as well as a circle drive. Didn’t need to blow the snow away because the people who sold us the house had employed an excellent plow service and we kept them. They never let us down.
A little over two years ago we moved to a bigger house with a much smaller driveway. So small, we couldn’t get a plow service to accept us. So my wife and I figured we could shovel the stuff. Oh, that worked out until this past Monday night when we got hit with an early blast of snow…about 9 inches of it. We went out after dinner and started shoveling. But it wasn’t as easy as it once seemed. After half the driveway was reasonably cleared, we hung up our shovels for good. We made a solemn pact before turning out the lights that night that we’d finally have to concede to reality and buy a stupid snow blower.
Snow blowers fly off the shelves once the first flakes fly, so I got up early and was the first person at the nearest Menards when it opened at 6:30 a.m. I had already chosen which blower I wanted and confirmed on the store’s app they had a few in stock. It said they had five. When I got there they had two. Whew! After I quickly grabbed the giant box containing the blower they only had one. Another guy was next to me who wanted something more beefy. All they had left was the floor sample. He snatched it off the shelf and hightailed it to the cashier. We gave each other that knowing look that said, “ha! we’re badass early risers who beat the other losers to the last snow blowers! Shovel THAT!” Yes, men are often morons.
As soon as I got home I couldn’t wait to extract the machine from its box and assemble it. It was easy. No tools required! The operating instructions were also easy. Then…the big moment. I fired up that snow eatin’ machine and commenced to blowin’! Having never before operated such a device, I thought it would be a drag. It wasn’t. I discovered the wonder of the chute that shoots the snow you just blew to somewhere it wasn’t. You could grab this handy rod and rotate the chute in any direction. Suddenly I had created a game where I could imagine aiming the chute at annoying pickup truck drivers and blowing them off the road with SNOW FORCE! I’d reach the next level by picking off poodles piddling on my lawn and giving door-to-door salesmen snowy face washes. Bam! Whoosh! Freeze! My snow blower had become the most awesome game console this side of my Atari 2600.
Then I came back from my Frigid Fantasy and realized my driveway was clear. I sulked like a six-year with no smartphone as I wheeled the blower back into the garage. For the rest of the day I would check the Weather Channel app in hopes more snow was on the way. It looks like we may get a dusting tomorrow. That’s fine. That’s plenty. That’s more than enough.
This boy’s pumped and ready to blow. That otherwise mundane appliance is now my force, my power, all I need to conquer the coolest and coldest….First Person Chuter.
In my world there are two kinds of people, flag pullers and flag laggards. Me? I’m of the former with little patience or respect for the latter.
For those of you who are wondering what the hell I’m talking about, it’s very simple. Here in Michigan, and I suppose, other places where snow falls, it’s possible to pay a service a nominal fee to plow your driveway when enough snow falls…usually about two inches. Pay one fee and someone with a plow on the front of their pickup truck will come as many times as warranted during the season. It’s a sweet deal for you if it snows a lot and they have to plow you out several times. It’s just as sweet for the plow boys and girls if it’s a light winter since they get paid the same no matter what.
So what’s with the flag? Ah. Some time in November the plow service will stick a bunch of flags along the perimeter of your driveway to guide them when the snow piles up. It’s a sad time for all. When the snow plow flags sprout up in the sub, it’s a surer bet than the groundhog lousy weather can’t be far behind. They may be orange or red or green or some other bright color, but they really amount to a white flag of surrender to the coming onslaught of frigid temperatures, ice, sleet, and yes, snow. One can beat a cowardly retreat to Florida or Arizona or Aruba, but I choose to stand tall in my Sorel boots and defend the flag. There’s no more thrilling sound than the rumble of the plow truck as it magically appears without being summoned to push the demon snow into a drift at the end of the driveway so high one can climb it to dunk a basketball in the forlorn rim sullenly awaiting the change of seasons. I can return to my warm bed knowing I’m getting my money’s worth, but more than disappointed I now have no valid excuse to call in sick.
Eventually, the Earth’s trip around the sun takes us to spring and the white of winter gives way to green blades of grass and crocuses, offset by the bright snow plow flags that have done their duty with honor. It is time to show what one is made of. Pull the flags as a show of optimism and certainty we have seen our last blast of snow, or, be a flag laggard, timidly leaving them to wilt and rust and clash with spring’s welcome hues while you await for the sky, and flakes, to fall “one more time” even though the temperatures are high enough to melt them on contact. Flag laggards will leave them up way past Easter, perhaps hoping they will guide the bunny should their driveways suddenly be covered with a foot of snow leaving the kids to search for eggs in their boots and mufflers. Maybe those who celebrate Passover fear Elijah the Prophet will get bogged down in a drift and say “feh!” rather than knock on their doors.
No, I am a devoted flag puller, punctually yanking those damned flags out on the first day of spring as I silently mock the flag laggards all around me, but leave them neatly piled in my garage…just in case…winter suddenly decides to have..a banner year.