Snow Shoveling

I just came in from shoveling snow. I hate shoveling snow here in Colorado Springs. People hear about Colorado getting 18 inches of snow in one day and they freak out. Truth is, that is up in the mountains. The city of Colorado Springs is situated at the base of Pikes Peak and surrounded by hills and mountain passes so our weather is uniquely mild, even when the whole rest of the state is going crazy.

One of the most frustrating things about shoveling here is the fact that even though we might have 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground and the temperature is 10 above, in 2 days it will be 60 or 70! That, plus being a military town, you have drivers of every skill and experience level on the road at the same time. Drivers from southern places where snow is a mythological legend to Drivers from the Great White North all live here and gather on the roads at the same time. If it gets really bad they will delay the base opening a couple of hours for non-mission-essential personnel, but then everything else does the same thing, so you still have all the same drivers, you can just see them better.

Many of these people have 4-wheel ice skating equipment on their vehicles. Okay, I might allow that you can get going faster, but you cannot stop any better, so when you are going down the Interstate at 75 MPH and hit a patch of ice, stopping becomes a problem. Add to that the fact that you are from somewhere that thinks winter is when it gets down to 50 and you have to wear a sweater, well, you probably don’t belong on the road.

Then there are those of us who grew up around winter. Winter means the time when the lakes and rivers get 5 to 10 feet of ice on them and people pull their ice-fishing sheds out onto the lake with their pickup trucks and then practice driving on ice and snow. There, snow removal is done by plowing the snow to the middle of the street in banks that are 10 feet high and following them with a snow blower looking vehicle that shoots it all into the back of a dump truck that will haul it out into a woods somewhere. They used to haul it to the river, but that could cause pollution, but you’ve gotta put it somewhere.

In Wisconsin the challenge was always to try to time your shoveling in such a way that you would beat the plow at its own game. See, while the main streets were plowed with the method described above, the side streets and residential areas were plowed to the side of the road, which meant you had snow banks in front of your house. It also meant a snow bank in front of your driveway. The trick was to try to time your shoveling so that you only had to shovel the end of the driveway once. You would do the walk, You could not leave the walk for a couple of days and wait for it to melt or you were fined, you would do the porch, the top end of the driveway, anything to avoid having to do the driveway twice. Time would pass, your car would be warmed up (even if you had an engine heater you might still go out a couple of times in the night to start it in -50 weather so you could keep it going) from sitting running and you would think, “I guess he must be having a hard time getting through. I’ll do the end real quick once and get out and go to the store to see how bad it is out there, hey.” So you shovel the end of the driveway anyway, realizing the plow is not coming for a while, you start to back out and just as you get near the end, the plow comes and makes an impassible bank and you have to stop and get out and shovel twice anyway. Then you see the guy coming back on the other side and when he smiles and waves at you it sure looks like he’s laughing.

However, you knew that if you didn’t shovel you could not get out. It wasn’t going to hit 60 in the same day it snowed and all melt. You HAVE to shovel in Wisconsin as a matter of survival. Now, I am going to have a cup of coffee, read my e-mail and comments on my blog and get ready for Sunday School.

Remember, as the Good Book says, “If you curse the snowplow driver he will leave your street until last.”

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