Friday, February 22, 2013

Snow Country for Old Men

Suburban living for the 21st century male has several key milestones.

There's the point where you decide to pay a guy to take care of your yard because who needs that aggravation?

There's the point where you switch from a propane grill to a wood chunk charcoal smoker (dude, don't even bring that charcoal brick stuff around my house. What do you think this is, Gladstone?).

And then there's the day when you get your power snow thrower.

Of these three, I think the final one represents the furthest stage of "maturity." I mean, it seems like a bit of an extravagance. You're spending a couple hundred bucks or so on an appliance that you'll use maybe once or twice a year? But when you have a snow event the likes of which we had this week, you damn well are grateful that you have a snow shovel that you can plug in or power up and just walk behind to clear your driveway. That goes double if, like a majority of the guys on my block, you have "advanced experience in the role of life."

Me? I kind of take it as a point of pride that I haven't yet crossed that threshold. I'm still young. I'm able bodied. I ain't 'fraid of a little cold white stuff, and shoveling it off my driveway is my manly duty, a rite of passage each winter that, like the out-taking of the trash and the smashing of the spiders, proves how important I am to this family.

So I wasn't at all daunted when I opened the garage door Thursday afternoon to attack the thick layer of white stuff in my driveway. Hell, I was kind of looking forward to it!
Before: A tabula rasa
10 inches exactly
Then, I moved the first shovel full. This was a heavy snow.

And when I say it was a heavy snow, I don't just mean there was a lot of it. Don't get me wrong, there WAS a lot of it, but it was also quite wet and heavy. This was going to be a tougher job than I was expecting.

Frost thing's first. I shovel a path from the garage door to the end of the driveway. Whew, this is tough. Next, shovel out the rest of one side of the driveway.
Halfway done with half the driveway
By the time I'm halfway done with half the driveway, I've worked up quite a sweat -- a manly sweat, mind you. I can see that I'd better do little advanced planning for the post-shoveling recuperation.
I'm going to need this later...
I shed my coat and get on with the job. Soon, I've got half the driveway cleared. That's enough to get one of our cars out of the two-car garage, just in case we have some kind of emergency (like running out of Scotch). I've also got a helluva backache, which makes that Scotch emergency all the more likely.
It all got me wondering just how much snow I moved. We had our driveway and sidewalk replaced last summer, so I know that the area I shoveled is about 907 square feet (130,608 square inches). Multiply that by the 10 inches of snow over the whole thing and you end up with 1,386,080 cubic inches of snow, or 802.13 cubic feet1. That all converts into a pretty seriously stiff back the next day.

But numbers aside, I was prepared to reward myself for a job... well... done.
Time for a cold one
Also, I'm totally going to get a snow thrower before next winter.

1) All math calculations done by the Internet and may be subject to my complete ineptitude at mathematics.

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  1. This would have been the perfect year to own a snow blower. We had our driveway plowed, but the snow was so heavy and slick and I still had to handle a lot of it with a shovel anyway. I have a little too much "advanced experience in the role of life" for that crap.

  2. Another old fart and I commiserated several times yesterday about the 'tonnage' of snow we shifted throughout the day, as well as swore up and down that we'd each buy a snow blower come Spring, when they {theoretically} go on sale.

    I will admit neither of us did as sterling a job as you did on your driveway (show-off), but then we stopped and fortified ourselves several times with generous amounts of Boulevard’s Harvest Dance during our shoveling.

    On the other hand, it might have been the most fun I’ve had clearing snow. Hell, by the time the wives shooed us inside the house we were singing sea shanties…


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