I published this post by error the other night. I immediately removed it and posted the correct one. The next morning, I found that it was not deleted from those of you who get my posts by email. If you’ve already read this one, I apologise.
Even for those of you who live where ice and snow are a normal winter occurrence, I have a few more observations, suggestions and idiosyncrasies.
I wrote of cleaning off windshields, side and back windows, and mentioned about being able to see where you’re going. Cleaning off your entire vehicle is also important because it make you visible to other drivers. If someone wishes to pull out, and looks up the street and sees nothing but white, they assume you’re an unmoving snow bank, and pull out. You may have the legal right-of-way, but you’re still the cause of an accident.
When you clear your car, clean off the headlights and tail-lights so that others notice you. Clean off the grille so that the engine breathes better. With today’s computer-controlled cars, yours will still start and run, but will use less fuel, produce less air pollution, and warm up faster (and so will you) if it inhales better.
Clean out the recessed wiper trough, or air-intake vent near the windshield. If you don’t do this, the snow will melt as the engine warms, get sucked into the cabin, and re-deposit as frost on the inside of the glass. You’ll either spend extra time scraping it off the inside, or extra time in hospital when you don’t see the truck.
How to shovel snow: Be rich enough to pay someone else to do it for you. Failing that, when you begin shovelling snow early in the winter, throw it as far back as you can. More snow will accrue, and if the first lot is piled at the edge of your lawn or driveway, not only will you have to throw subsequent lots back, you’ll have to do it over the piles at the edge, making it that much harder.
As I was digging out after our most recent storm, I watched the teen-age boy across the street. He dumped his first shovelfuls only as far as he had to. By the time he was finishing the job, he was carrying them over and struggling to toss them over a pile as tall as he was.
We don’t use salt to melt ice on sidewalks or driveways. It kills grass, and flowers in the wife’s gardens, and doesn’t do cars, clothing or footwear any good. We use crystal urea. It melts like salt, but is itself a fertiliser. It means I have to mow or weed more often, but that’s a lot easier and warmer than shovelling snow or chopping ice. We buy it in fifty-pound bags at an agricultural-supply store near the farmers’ market. Because it’s a fertiliser, they sell it during the summer. We forgot to get a bag last summer, and I’ve barely got enough to get through the winter.
With a dog in the house, I have to shovel not only out the front, but out the back too. We own the left side of a semi-detached house. The builder didn’t bother to purchase left-hand French doors for deck access. When we moved in, the sliding portion did so on the outside. If we had a heavy snow or ice storm, the door was almost impossible to move. Our four cats have learned to use two kitty-litter boxes, but the dog insists on going outside.
I have to shovel a couple of paths across the deck, and an 18 inch tall dog has trouble with two-foot piles of snow in the back yard. A couple of times each winter, I have to shovel/tramp down, a big looping path through the back yard, and a landing area, so that he has someplace to leave his buried treasure. It keeps the odor away from the house, till I can get out and scoop it up in the spring.
Several years ago, we went from cable TV to satellite. Fortunately, the dish is only mounted on my front porch roof. Last night I had to take a broom, to the end of which another broom-handle is taped, wade across my hip-deep front yard, and reach up to clean off ¾ of an inch of wet, clingy snow.
When there’s no snow, the daughter can at least make short runs in her power wheelchair. When winter closes in and sidewalks are not shoveled, it can range from difficult to impossible to get certain places. She lives in one of two wheelchair accessible units in a housing complex right off a community trail. The sidewalk plows the city uses sometimes have the trail clear before the street in front of the complex is done. The biggest barricade is often the sidewalk from her unit to the trail. The neighbor shovels as far as his van, in front of the units, for his wife’s wheelchair, but it’s about another two-hundred feet to the trail, and heavily used by many of the school-children and non-car-owning low-income residents. It gets packed down quickly and thickly after a storm.
The grandson is now 20, and a great help, but it’s not unusual, a couple of times a winter, for me to stop in and use her shovel, and a chopper or scraper to clear back enough of a track that she can roll out to the nearest supermarket or the postal outlet when she needs to, to prevent cabin fever.
Not much humor or trivia in today’s post, just the rants and rambles I promised you above. The only thing you may have learned is to sit a little farther from the computer screen when the curmudgeon is on a tear. I’m having a wonderful winter. How has yours been?