Notes from a Snow Day

Remember when you were a kid and schools would be closed because of snow? Wasn’t that one of the best feelings ever? Snow days in the work-a-day world aren’t quite so much fun, but it’s still nice not to have to get up at dark-o’clock and clear the driveway and then drive to the office on snow covered roads. In the late ‘80s, I had a full-size 4-wheel-drive pickup just so I could get to work under the worst of conditions. Our network and our computers needed much more care then than they do today. Also, they were all in the office. Today, we can take the computers with us and we can monitor and, if necessary repair the network from our homes.

The storm that kept us home on Tuesday was supposed to be “crippling” and “historic” according to the weather service. Seriously, I think those guys should stick to the facts. We were prepared. We aren’t the kind of folks who run out for milk and bread at the first sign of trouble. However, Monday is the day my wife normally shops and she normally buys a few gallon bottles of water. She wants a sign for her cart that says “Not Shopping for the Storm.” As for me, I had gas for the snow-blower but I was missing an accessory that the forecast suggested I might need – a drift slicer. I have been meaning to buy one but I was affected by that family trait, the “we could make that gene” that Faith wrote abouttwice.

I was pretty sure that I could make a drift slicer, and for far less than the $55 price tag on the website. For a few dollars’ worth of steel, a few feet of heat-shrink tubing and some stainless steel screws I had a sturdy and functional drift slicer. We didn’t have the three-foot drifts they predicted, but we had enough snow to test the effectiveness of my handiwork.

It's not meant to be a road map, but you get the general idea.
It’s not meant to be a road map, but you get the general idea.

I follow a pattern for clearing the driveway and the sidewalk in front of our house. It’s designed to require the least amount of time overall and the least amount of time slogging in reverse. I won’t bore you with that. Actually, I might some day because it has taken a long time to perfect it, but for now, there’s a more important pattern – building Mt. Maddie. The diagram at the right isn’t drawn to scale and isn’t meant to be a roadmap. The gray lines represent paths that I clear so my wife can get to her firewood racks, and some are for Maddie, um, for business purposes. When the discharge shoot can be angled properly, all of the snow goes into a single heap. Mt. Maddie. She loves playing on that pile.

Maddie loves to play in the snow as much as any of the Irish Setters we have had. Her favorite activity is to steal something of ours and play keep-away. Tuesday, she stole my glove. She snagged it with one of her front teeth and as I tried to wiggle it free, it came off. In the words of June Carter-Cash in one of my favorite country songs “Jackson” – “Goodbye, that’s all she wrote.”

The day ended with a good deal of work having been accomplished, a driveway and backyard cleared for normal activity and one very tired pup. Also, the day ended with a very nice gesture from a snowplow driver. I had cleared the driveway after the storm ended but before what I thought was the last pass by the plow truck. After he drove by, I went out with a shovel to clear the snow that was pushed into the driveway and onto the sidewalk. When I was just about finished, the plow truck returned.

Maybe this will help you to visualize the random act of kindness offered to me.
Maybe this will help you to visualize the random act of kindness offered to me.

As he was coming toward our driveway, he saw me, raised the blade and swerved into the center of our street. Then he turned around and returned to finish the street in front of our house heading away from our driveway. With that kind action, he avoided pushing a new pile of snow onto the space I had just cleared. Sorry, but I couldn’t resist another diagram. It’s a slow night.

56 thoughts on “Notes from a Snow Day

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  1. It certainly was the best feeling ever! My Mom was a teacher so it made it doubly special since we didn’t have to go to a babysitter’s house.
    The pictures of the side roads look still a little messy but you are very good at telling us that you were prepared. It looks like it and our broadcasters in Ohio were bragging or praising your road service crews! Even still, take care and God Bless!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by and for the good wishes. Our road crews are amazing. I don’t know how many hours they put in, but they were out throughout this storm. Although there was a driving ban, I probably could have driven out at any point.

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  2. I have to say, hearing about the snowplow driver just put a smile on my face! Bless him.

    I used to love snow days when I was young, but then I grew up and became the one who had to clean up the snow and/or drive in it. Not so keen on snow days anymore. :P

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    1. Snow days start early for me as I’m the one setting the website, sending the emails and working with my manager to send out iPhone alerts. Still, being home and warm beats driving under bad conditions.

      I remember so many times that the plow guy just blasts on by as I finish and spray the last 10′ of my driveway with a few inches of snow. This guy was a gem, It really made me feel good.

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  3. Milk and bread. Why is that what people buy? I can see Tequila and cornchips and avocados OR a big back of honeycrisp apples and oranges and cornchips OR bags of cookies and . . .
    I’m on a diet. Can you tell? But seriously, why bread and milk. It’s a bad combo!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We heard a lot about the crippling and historic storm…it made me think of all the hurricane preps we do. Thankfully, all is well. I never heard of a drift slicer and is partly because I’ve never lived in a four season state. Sunshine and rain for me😄

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    1. The forecast was over-hyped and they only talked about the worst case scenarios. We got about 16-18″ of snow, far short of the 24-28″ they were predicting. Not crippling, not historic but still a lot of snow and a good reason to work from home for a day.

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  5. I love your tradition of building Mt. Maddie (preceded by Mt. Mollie and Mt. Reilly) almost as much as I loved when you shoveled out Fort Faith when I was a kid. It never occurred to me how difficult that was to do with a shovel until the first time I had to shovel anything – yikes!

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    1. I also recall building a “mountain” for you to sled down. Of course, I thought it was a good idea that you could simply crash into the fence – built in safety device :) I don’t know how high Mt Maddie would be if I didn’t have a snow blower.

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  6. Having grown up in Louisiana, the only part of this that made sense was the “Jackson” lyric (sing it, June!). Also, my guess is that your snow mountain would be the highest elevation in New Orleans, were we to jiggle physics, time, and probability around a bit.

    Drift slicer. Wow.

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    1. It’s about 6′ high Bryant. If we don’t get some periodic melting, it will settle to about 5′ and then rise back up. Last year, the final remnants were in the yard until April. I do love that song, but I am going to get a ticket if I keep listening to it in the car.

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  7. Love the ending of your post! Such random acts of kindness are greatly appreciated on such days, don’t you think? I learned the expression “Snow Day” when I moved from France to the US. Never had one when I was a kid. Not enough snow. I caught up in Massachusetts! Being often on my own since my husband traveled a lot back then, I learned all about the plowing. But I also remember of the town plow trucks and of the drivers who would also do an extra run so I could exit my driveay without plowing the accumulated snow at the end. Your dogs seem to have lots of fun. Snow is gorgeous but gets bad when it freezes. So I hope the temperatures won’t go to low. Take care.

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    1. Thanks Evelyne. I would have expected that France would get a log of snow. MA got more than us on this one, upward of three feet in central MA. It’s cold here. A little more snow coming tomorrow night and more on Sunday. The plow driver was the best!

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    2. Just a quick update Evelyne – it was zero degrees when I left for work. It doesn’t look like this stuff is going to melt soon. But, as you remember, it’s one of those four seasons we (say we) love here in New England.

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    1. Thanks Audrey. This time, I went out twice with the blower. If I let the snow from the plow pile up, the sidewalk and the end of the driveway get very deep and then it’s slow hard work. Two light passes are easier than one heavy one. I hope the diagrams help but I do enjoy drawing them.

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  8. Awww Mt. Maddie 😊 Looks like Maddie was as happy to have you home as kids are to have a school day! I was thinking about you yesterday hunkered in with your wood stove if power went out. It’s awful when forecasters get it wrong because then people get on the roads the next time and they all get stranded in Mt. Car Crashes. I think it was SERIOUS overkill to use the word ‘recordbreaking’ before a weather event even happens!! Now I’m headed to Faith’s to laugh about you making things.

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    1. Maddie loves it when it snows and we can play with her. You are right Sammy, the worst path of this forecast will come during a future storm. The weather folks will dial it back a bit and people will ignore it and problems will result. We can always wait until it’s over to label it “historic”. Thanks !

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      1. I was struck both by how well Faith expresses herself in her writing ( apple falling not far from the tree) and, even moreso, her astute insight into the meaning behind making vs buying and the different attitudes towards imperfection. She’s a gem, for sure 😊

        Liked by 1 person

        1. She’s a talented and creative person. I’m not being overly biased there. She’s an art school grad working in Marketing and she went back to get her MBA. She is very good at calling attention to the stuff that matters (in photographs and in writing) and describing it well. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. I’ve never ever had a “Snow Day”! When I was 1 my Mother’s plan to get us to CA was finally realized when my Father was transferred from Camp Le Jeune, NC to Twenty Nine Palms CA. Yes, I’m a Marine Brat. I’ve been in CA since migrating north, and at age 10 we moved to San Jose, CA and I am still here. :)

    Question. Why would the snow plow guys dump snow in your driveways that y’all laboriously clear yourselves? That seems so wrong on so many levels! They’re supposed to be helping you. Putting snow in your driveways doesn’t help with that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you have any school closings? I loved snow days.

      Thd plow guys usually don’t havd a choice. Their job is to clear the road by pushing the snow to the side. That means across our driveways. In neighborhoods like ours, the ones that have sidewalks close to the street, the plow discharge also tends to cover the walks. By law , we have to clear the walk with 24 hours.

      Most people wait until the plows are done before clearing the driveway & walks but sometimes the drivers make one more pass. I don’t mind becsuse they have been working a long time by that point but this guy was extra nice.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Re: snowplow guys
        Oh. still seems like they could pile up the snow somewhere along the side of the road w/o blocking any driveways. I imagine their colleagues do the same to their own driveways so at least he too has to dig out his own driveway and walkway. :) If so, you’d think they’d be the first ones changing where they pile up the snow though.

        School closing days…outside of National Holidays… I recall being school shut or being canceled only twice. Once when JFK was shot, and once while in High School there was a bomb scare. In my childhood I never even missed a day due to an Earthquake!

        I have always liked the idea of a “Snow day” but, don’t like having the make-up days in the Summer.

        When my kids were in school I used to give them one “hookie” day a year. They could pick the day, and the activity we would do, and there was no make up day in the Summer. :)

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Our school district always had three days built into the schedule. If there were no snow days, we had 183 days of school The first three snow days were free. After that, we had to add them onto the end of the year. Snow days are fine but I’d really prefer not having an earthquake day, a bomb scare day or anything along those lines.

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    1. We didn’t get hit too hard. I think we got 16-18″ total but the road crews kept after it. There was a driving ban in place from 9:00 pm Monday until 2:00 pm Tuesday. I didn’t head out until 6:00 am Wednesday when it was time for work and things were very good by then. Central Massachusetts (about an hour northeast of us) got over 30″ of snow and digging out took a bit longer.

      The worst problem, and I think the reason for the driving ban, was the wind. The blowing snow causes “white out” conditions where you can’t really tell where you are going. IT can be very disorienting. Thanks for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well my husband told me there was a driving ban until if anyone is to drive will be summoned or prisoned. I saw a few pictures he sent me online. It was really shocking to my eyesight to see. Even a car got buried with snow.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. The driving bans are serious business. Only the Governor of the State can issue them, and they are enforced for good reasons. It’s impossible to keep the highways clear if there are cars driving, crashed or abandoned – all of which happen when people are allowed to drive during bad storms. We have had storms that have been much worse than this one and the best place to be is home.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. We live on a short, dead-end street, so we don’t get as much plow action as the rest of the neighborhood does, but I will say, they’re kind enough to leave it in front of the empty field and at the end of the road. Over at MIL’s they seem to always pile the snow on her corner, and not only is it an eyesore, but it makes it difficult for drivers to see. Perhaps newly erected neighborhoods should have a dump site for plows?
    Mt. Maddie is fantastic! My dog loves snow, too, but at dog parks, she’s never interested in hills. I think it’s a tracking thing? Not much to hunt on high ground unless you’re a bird dog, eh?
    I’m glad it wasn’t overall as bad as they predicted, but man, oh man, I feel for the people in Nantucket…When the meteorologist apologized, all I could think was, “Better safe than sorry!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Our Gov actually said “why do people feel the need to complain about a situation not being as bad as it could have been?” I’m involved in the decision process to close our office. I always worry that we are going to decide too soon to close, and have it end up being a day we all could have made it into the office with out any trouble. It wasn’t as bad as we expected, but the highways were closed from 9:00 PM Mon to 2:00 PM Tue, so it was the right call. Besides, most of us can do our job from home for at least one or two days.

      They pile the snow on the corners here, and you’re right, it does create a blind spot. Our neighborhood was laid out in the mid ’50s and I’m not sure they gave the whole idea of snow removal much thought. I’m glad they make the right choice on your street.

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  11. So….I am stuck on this line: “so my wife can get to her firewood racks.” As in, “Honey, it’s cold in here. How about you put another log on the fire!” Oh, the glory of hearing your school closed for a snow day! Yay!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha – Lois, it’s not what you think. My wife loves “her” wood stove. I’m not really allowed to start a fire or feed a fire because she thinks I’m overly fond of fire. She’s also a foot shorter than me so when I would stack the firewood, I would stack it above her head. She likes to stack the wood. She brings it in and stacks it on the porch. I think she likes the exercise, but it’s a thing between us. A “Hands off my firewood” kind of thing :)

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  12. I was going to leave a comment here and tell the tale of the town plow driver who cleared our cul-de-sac in the wrong direction and blocked everyone’s driveway rather than make a “Mt. Carrie Court” in the center of the circle — but then I decided to write anything would only encourage it to snow more. ;-)

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  13. My dad was a machinist and cabinet maker with his own shop where he made reproductions and restored antiques. He made his own turning lathe, stove to keep his shop warm, and whatever else he needed to keep from having to buy it. Smart man, just like you. Oh, and I hate when people run to the grocery store and wipe everything out before other people have a chance to buy just one gallon of milk or one measly loaf of bread! We truly live in a “ME” generation.

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