I don’t like long titles, but if I did, I would continue this one with “and we need access to firewood, and the snow at the fence can’t be so tall that the dog can walk into the neighbor’s yard and people our age should never lift snow over their heads and the dog needs a place to…” I hinted at this post when I wrote “Notes from a Snow Day” but I thought that a little explanation might help and I have some pictures to share.
If you look at our yard right now, you might wonder “what was he thinking?” Yes, it’s a small lot and yet a significant portion of it has been snow-blown down to a bit above the grass. What’s up with that? Do I enjoy running my snow blower that much? No. Well, to be honest, I might. It is kinda-fun and with the storm cab and the cup holder, it’s not a bad gig. Still, I’d rather be sitting inside near the fire, near the computer, near the box of Star Trek Next Generation DVDs, near the coffee/tea/beer (depending on time of day) and near the wife/cats/dog (depending on collective moods).
Most of the places that I run the snow blower make sense, especially if you’ve lived in New England long enough to have experienced winters where the snow keeps piling up (like the one we’re having this year). Of course, I clear the driveway, the sidewalk at the street and the sidewalk from the shed where the snow blower sits and the gate to the driveway. That just makes sense. However, not every storm requires the machine. Sometime, we only get ½” to 2” and I can just push it around with a shovel. If – there’s – some –place – to – push – it. That’s why I clear a bit of the grass (either in strips or in “pockets” at the edge of the driveway. Otherwise, the snow that gets pushed around has to be lifted over the snow bank which is something a friend reminded me that “people of a certain age” shouldn’t do.
The second group of places that I clear that makes sense are the paths to the firewood.
I got into some trouble in the comments the last time when I mentioned that I do this “so my wife can get to the firewood.” It’s true, she handles everything related to the fire. That’s because she knows how she wants the wood stacked, which logs she wants brought in and she enjoys the exercise. Also, she doesn’t trust me with fire. Period.
Alongside those paths are a few extra for the dog. These fall into two types. A) The paths where we want Maddie to take care of business and B) the snow we remove so she can’t escape the yard.
The areas that I clear that make no apparent sense are the ones alongside the foundation. I do this in the back yard because the yard slopes slightly toward the house. Our first winter in this house saw me digging a small sump pit in frozen ground and running a submersible pump to keep the water from pouring into the basement windows. The following summer, I added a bunch of drain tile and drywells, but I’m still not taking any chances that a mid-winter thaw will flood the basement. I also clear snow away from the side windows because a channel forms between the drifting snow and the foundation windows. A warm winter rain, and we would be testing the waterproof nature of those windows.
The path that makes no sense at all, is hinted to by the second half of the title. We don’t have a sidewalk from the street to our front porch. Still, I clear a path because the paper guy, the UPS guy, the FedEx guy and one of the mailmen walk up to our door that way. They will trudge through the snow in order to avoid the time it takes to get to the ramp at the top of the driveway. They are on the clock, and time may actually be money.
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to complete several stints as an 89-day wonder with the Post Office. The pay was great, but I worked lousy shifts and was treated a little like dirt. One thing that the supervisor could do to me that he couldn’t do to a union employee was “clock me out” at the end of my shift whether I was done working or not. I’m sure I could have complained, but I’m sure I would have never worked there again if I did. So, I did my best to finish my route on time.
I remember trudging through snow during several Christmas holiday breaks at the P.O., and I remember how much I appreciated the people who cleared a path connecting the best place to park with the mailbox.
I’m sure that the UPS guy and the regular mailmen are in no danger of losing wages, but the guy that delivers the paper and the people driving the FedEx Home trucks are self-employed. Time is money for them. It’s not that much extra work, and it makes a few people happy. People may not appreciate the computer programs I write, but those folks like that path, my wife likes being able to get “her” firewood and Maddie loves the paths and the resulting mountains of snow.