Sunday, December 28, 2008

Snow Removal

Shoveling snow is a fact of life this time of year in northern Idaho.  If it's a good winter, we are having a storm come through every two to three days.  This is great for the snowpack, and makes for a lot of incredible powder days on the boards, but it also means that many mornings start with having to clear the driveway.

I look at shoveling the drive in two ways.  The first is that it is a matter of pride.  I am no great white hunter, so my idea of providing meat for my family is going grocery shopping.  I do take great pride, however, in the fact that I keep my driveway clear of snow.  The second thing is that it is a great workout.  I have about a pretty good size drive, and it is a 30 to 45 minute job to clear it.  I start with a 7 minute stretching routine, followed by 2 minutes of jumping rope, and then it is off to shovel.  I shovel steady and hard, clearing sections at a time, constantly changing from pushing snow to lifting snow, so that I am varying the stress on my back.  I work quickly, so that I can keep my heart rate up, and I only stop to stretch my back when needed.  

One other point is, I don't own a snow thrower.  My neighbor across the street has one, and my neighbor next door has one.  They are great machines, and my back would probably be much better off if I had one, but I feel like I need the exercise of manually shoveling snow.  It is not easy getting a whole lot of physical activity this time of year. The roads are generally too bad to ride or run, and I am not the indoor trainer type.  So, 2 days a week skiing, and 3 to 5 days a week shoveling is about it for 2 months of the year. 

However, there is always that temptation to break down and buy one.  Two weeks ago, when we had that 30+ inch snowfall, was one of those times when the temptation was great.  When I opened my garage, and saw that wall of snow, I had no idea how I was going to move it, and, in fact, I only cleared half of the drive with my shovel.  Shannon, my neighbor from across the street, used his snow thrower to clear the road enough so that I could get to work, and then Reid from next door came over that afternoon with his thrower to clear the berm left by the snow plow, and then cleared the other half of my drive. 

Then came the worst of it.  I awoke at 1:30 am the day after Christmas, knowing that I had the stomach virus that was going through the care facility where I work.  I spent the next 24 hours in bed, or in the bathroom.  I was miserable, and very sick.  I lost five pounds in 24 hours.  And the whole time I was sick, it was snowing.  On Saturday morning, my wife went to the store for coffee (or to get away from me for a few minutes).  While she was gone, I got on line and started looking at snow throwers.  I had to get my driveway cleared, and I knew I was too weak to shovel 8 inches of new snow.  I knew we didn't have the money, but there was a little room left on the credit card, and this was an emergency.  I called every place in town.  No one had a single snow thrower left in stock.  The lady at home depot told me it would be 2 weeks before they had any.  I thought, MY GOD LADY, we will have starved to death by then!

It was at about that time in my panic, that my wife came in and told me that she had buried the car in the snow berm left by the plow.  I dragged myself out of my death bed, put on some clothes, and went out to start shoveling.  The couple from across the street were already using their snow thrower and shovels to clear the car, and I grabbed my grain shovel and we got it out in just a few minutes.  I then finished shoveling the Subaru's half of the drive and got the car back into the garage.  I went across the street and helped Betty clear the snow plow berm from the end of her driveway, and then I went back inside and went to bed.

Today I woke up feeling pretty good.  I had breakfast, drank my first cup of coffee in three days, got dressed, went down stairs and did my stretches, jumped some rope, and then went out and finished shoveling the drive.  The weather has warmed quite a bit, and the snow was wet and heavy.  It was a hell of a lot of work.  I had a great workout!  

No comments: