On this day after Christ’s birthday, I sit at my computer, the first one to rise on this fine winter morning. It is quiet in the house now, unlike yesterday morning when all sorts of presents were opened. At three years old, our grandson fully enjoyed the gift opening. I suggested to his mother that she take a few of the presents and hide them in a closet, to be distributed throughout the year on “rainy days.” In the afternoon we had a fine Christmas dinner and spent the rest of the day enjoying each others company. There was a brief interlude to plow more snow; perhaps the least appreciated part my Christmas day.
While people in some parts of the country long to see just one white Christmas (Atlanta had snow this year), we in Minnesota almost always have snow on the ground by December 25th. Snow is beautiful and we always welcome it when it first comes. But, like a house guest that hangs around too long, snow eventually becomes a burden. It must be shoveled, plowed, put it into trucks, and hauled away. People slip and fall on snow and ice. Young people just laugh at each other when they fall, but old people break bones. Middle age people throw out their backs when shoveling deep snow. By age 30 the choice must be made between chiropractor bills or a snow blower. Years ago I opted for the snow blower, one of my better “life choices”.
We live in a neighborhood populated mostly by college students. Students don’t pay much attention to the snow. If it stays on the sidewalk or stairs for days and days, it doesn’t bother them. Around here there is an old saying, “If you see a college kid with a snow shovel in his hand, he is using that shovel for only one purpose: to dig his car out of a snow bank!” For that purpose students often “borrow” our snow shovel from the front porch. I don’t mind that they “borrow” it without permission. I do mind when the shovel never makes it back to the porch.
For cities and counties, snow can be a real financial burden. This year the huge snow amounts have caused some cities to exhaust most of their annual “snow removal” budgets. That’s not a good sign when winter started only five days ago. Speaking of government services, I’ve got a ten year feud going with the snow plow operator that clears our street. It is a state highway, so we’ve got these humongous orange State of Minnesota plow that consistently pushes the snow over the entrance to our driveway. And this isn’t just a little bit of snow; it’s a three foot tall ice dam! The plow driver tells me to quit pushing the snow back into the street and I tell him that I wouldn’t have to do it if he didn’t put it there in the first place! In return, he curses at me and tells me that he’s going to turn me into the highway patrol and I dare him to do it. I haven’t seen him yet this year; let’s hope he retired.
Many of my readers live in warm climates and are probably humored by all of these snow “war stories.” I hope you’re not terribly bored; it’s just that for us this snow thing is a constant part of our lives for several months each year…year after year. If we were more intelligent up here in the north land, we would have moved south years ago. As an old buddy of mine in South Carolina used to say to me, “Don, you don’t have to shovel rain.” Thanks for listening to me complain. A good listener is therapy!