Snow. We gots it.
Knowing that unlike the tropics, where my in-laws live, we live in The North which is known for snow. As differentiated from Massachusetts (aka, The Tropics) where they only received about 6 inches of snow I knew that we were supposed to receive 12+ inches. So, during the multiple hour drive that was the journey home, I was mulling over my plan of attack for when we arrived. Fully anticipating having to post-hole to the front steps, start a fire, change into snow clothes, and mow the snow with the snow mower (aka, The Rampaging Snow Beast). We arrived home after our Christmas sojourn to find this awaiting us:
|Be it ever so snowbound . . .|
As you can see, it's a fair amount of snow.
As you can also see, I have
We parked across the street in that neighbors driveway and strolled up to our steps to begin the process.
The cats were thrilled to see us and jump into our warm, cozy laps.
For which they had good reason.
Once inside and aware of the state of things within the homestead, my bride's glance was almost as frosty as the reading on the thermo meter. For instead of the anticipated 60-something that I had thought the house would remain at, we found it a less than agreeable 43 degrees.
While not an unreasonable exterior temperature, most women I know tend to be chilly in a reasonable indoor environment.
By most standards, 43 does not qualify for that description.
We have radiant heat in two floors and a wood stove. Seven feet tall and magnificent to behold, it is a wondrous thing when in full burn. But, it is manually operated. Sooooo, when we're gone, no fire. No heat. Just the ground floor and the partial second floor doing their radiant heat thing.
In late December in northern Vermont.
Said wondrous stove can heat you right out of this domicile. Given time.
No forced air, no oil-fired furnace with its immediate gratification of hotly desired heat (pun intended).
So, load up the stove with wood, stuffing little pieces in every nook and cranny in the burning area and break out the god of fire. Then change into my snow mowing clothes - warm pants, Sorel boots, thick socks, heavy coat, warm gloves, warm stocking hat, and head outside to where the temperature was cold, but the atmosphere a bit warmer than inside.
My bride awaited the arrival of a livable temperature while having to wear her coat inside her home.
Me? I sought out the warmth and solace of the winter afternoon in the interim.
This is what awaited me:
|16 inches of winter goodness.|
Fortunately I have a snow blowing beast of burden to ease my physical labors in situations like this.
Those of you that have lived in such a clime know that regardless the ability of the snowblower, there are many places where it cannot remove snow. Removing snow from these places thusly requires substantial personal physical effort despite the ownership of such wonderful mechanical contrivances.
But I digress.
Still, it can move an awful lot of the snow that it can reach. That's the charm of these beasties.
So, to it I went, stopping to document some of the level of effort required:
|Actually, it was worse than it appears.|
My neighbor is a smart, thoughtful guy, senior to me with the knowledge that comes with that status. He frequently avails me of said knowledge, especially when I ask.
So I asked him the best way to deal with the snow when it is piled up higher than the snowbeast.
"Don't let it get that high, hit it with the snowblower before then."
Erudite in its simplicity. Not much help when you're not around however.
I was reminded of previous times that I've removed snow.
|I still remember this.|
At one point in my career I found my self stationed with a Special Forces unit located at the foot of the Bavarian Alps, an hour south of München (Munich). Being stationed at the base of the Bavarian Alps, we naturally availed ourselves of said natural resource for our winter activities.
Especially those of the downhill ski training type.
So, in January of '81 we found ourselves conducting our annual ski training on the Brauneck, a local mountain with which we were familiar. With slopes suitable for training thereon as well as locales suitable for the cultural training aspect of it. For we are trained in the local languages, customs, and cultures. Said cultures, customs, and languages we are expected to maintain proficiency in.
Perforce fluency even.
Such cultural activities including, but not limited to, availing ourselves of the locals highly prized and proudly served malt and barley beverages. Said beverages to be consumed under the cloaking activity frequently referred to as "lunch". There are many places wherefore to stop by and undertake said cultural activities, and we being very familiar with the mountain had developed preferences.
So, to one such preferential locale on the mountain did we retire to.
We stopped by a place whose owners we were familiar with, and they with us. While greeting her and trying to sort out our orders, it came up that with the extraordinary snow fall of this season she had a problem. While she had managed to dig out the front of the establishment, she needed to dig out the back. She hadn't gotten to it yet. So, we offered to dig it out for her. We knew them well and she was no longer as spry as she had been as a bride.
Under all that snow was a supply shed that she accessed on a near daily basis. We dug a way from the kitchen door of the hütte to the shed for her as her husband had died in the fall and they had not yet adjusted to his absence.
Eventually the kids took over running the hütte but we gave her a hand in the interim.
Americans still receive a warm welcome there to this day, for this represents but one of many incidents of assistance with these folks.
But especially tall ones, for the vertically challenged among our group were unable to heave the snow high enough to gain "escape velocity" as it were. At 6'4" I was challenged to do so as we got towards the bottom.
So, the snow at home this week is back in perspective for me.
Oh yeah, frigid home and hearth. After a couple of hours of clearing snow from the driveway and truck it was time to park the car in the driveway.
And start the unloading.
Then burn another load in the stove.
We managed to raise the indoor temp to 60 by the time we retired for the evening. It was 67 by the next morning when we arose from our slumbers and the house was much warmer in more ways than one.