I am freaking proud of myself. Snow shoveling-wise.
By the powers vested in me by, well, ME, I hereby declare myself the winner of Salem, Oregon's Snowpocalypse 2014 Over 65 Driveway Clearing Championship, Hand-Wielded Snow Shovel Division.
Walking around our neighborhood's streets here in rural south Salem, I saw several other cleared driveways. But tractor tracks showed this was accomplished with a mechanized method. Me, I'm old style.
The past couple of days we've gotten a bit over 9 inches of snow. That's a lot for the mid-Willamette Valley. We've lived out here for 24 years. I can't remember ever needing to shovel this much snow.
Or, ever being as old as I am now (which makes sense).
I used to clear our long driveway with a crappy snow shovel. A few years ago I got this marvel, a Suncast SC530 20-Inch Poly Snow Shovel/Pusher With Ergonomic D-Grip Handle. This shovel rocks. I stick the handle in my gut, then use core and leg muscles to clear a lane of snow.
Repeat. Many, many times.
After about two hours, both today -- 6 inches of snow -- and yesterday -- 3 inches of snow -- our long driveway was shoveled clear. (DId I mention we have a long driveway? The way I'd describe it, is long.)
We have two cars with Blizzak snow tires. Laurel left our HIghlander at the top of the driveway before the snow got really deep. But I wanted to be able to get my Mini Cooper out on the road as soon as possible. Even with Blizzaks, I didn't think Ms. Mini (she's so cute!) was going to handle 6 inches of snow very well.
Plus, I usually do some aerobic and weight-lifting exercising on Fridays and Sundays. So I figured a couple of hours of snow shoveling on Friday and Saturday would substitute for not being able to StreetStride at Minto Brown Park and get to our athletic club.
For sure. See how our driveway curves to the left in the photo above after leaving our carport/garage?
This is where it heads next. But there's even more...
I doubt there are any who would challenge my winning the Salem Oregon Snowpocalypse 2014 Over 65 Driveway Clearing Championship, Hand-Wielded Snow Shovel Division.
Any who would dare to do so, share your own driveway photos, please. Along with a scan of your Medicare card.
I'm proud of myself in large part because not only did I have no problem physically shoveling 9 inches of snow from our driveway (did I mention it is long?), I actually enjoyed myself.
When I walked down from the top of the driveway today, snow shovel and coffee mug in hand, I encountered my wife coming back from a dog walk. "We really need to hire someone to clear the driveway next time it snows," she said.
"What are you talking about?," I told her. "I had fun doing this."
Well, fun may not be the best word to describe how I feel while shoveling driveway snow. Satisfying might be better.
It's a tough job. I can do it. It's satisfying to start with a single swipe of the shovel, realize I have a long way to go, and then, one push/dump at a time, make that long way progressively shorter. There's a simple Zennish chop wood and carry water feeling to shoveling snow.
If I think about the entire driveway (which, remember, is long), what I'm doing seems crazy.
I really don't have to do it. I could drive the Mini Cooper up and down the driveway after every couple of inches of snow falls, packing the snow down and keeping the driveway drivable. Or I could leave the Mini up by the mailbox along with our other car.
Truth be told, I enjoy clearing the driveway by hand.
It makes me feel real. Shoveling snow is exactly opposite to virtual reality, cyberspace reality, social media reality. There's no abstractions here, no 140 character limit, no wordiness, no pretending to be someone you're not, or someone capable of doing something you really can't do.
Me and the snow, we have an intimate and honest relationship. No bullshit. The snow fell. No problem. That's what it had to do. Me, I want it moved to the side of the driveway. That's what I have to do. Again, no problem.
Except when, as happened today, the mounds of snow pushed to the side on Day 1 interfere with my pushing more snow to the side on Day 2. But I have a system. You've got to have a system with snow shoveling. Especially if you have a long driveway.
First couple of inches of snow, I clear maximally. This allows me to push aside more inches of snow less maximally. I know how much room our cars need to get up the driveway. About the width of the snow shovel, plus a couple of feet.
So today it worked out that I was only able to push the new snow up to the edge of the mounds of the old snow that I'd cleared yesterday. The cleared area was still wide enough to drive through. Maybe not for a UPS truck; but the snow should melt early next week.
I like how simple snow shoveling is. Including my system for doing it. It allows me to either not think at all, or let my mind wander however it wants to.
I got to thinking about how, in addition to being able to get my Mini Cooper up the driveway, it makes me feel good to know that an emergency vehicle could get down our driveway. And then, back up.
Such as, I mused, an ambulance. What if my wife or I had a serious medical problem during Salem Snowpocalypse 2014? Unlikely, but possible.
We're healthy, Laurel and me, I thought, while shoveling snow. What are the chances one of us would suffer, say, a heart attack?
Not very great. Though one does hear about older men having a heart attack from engaging in some unusual strenuous physical activity. Like... hmmmm....
Which I kept doing. While musing about the marvelous existential absurdity of this activity.
Here I was, toiling away at clearing our driveway of snow so, among other reasons, an ambulance or other emergency vehicle could get down it. But this might be needed because a 65 year old man had decided to spend a couple of hours clearing his driveway of snow.
Sartre and Camus would love this situation.
I went on to ponder the probablility that this 65 year old man would have a heart attack at the very moment, or soon thereafter, he had finished clearing the driveway. Because if the driveway was only partially cleared when he had the heart attack caused, in part, by his desire to make the driveway passable for emergency vehicles, an ambulance still would find it difficult or impossible to get through the remaining snow.
Strangely, while shoveling snow I found these thoughts wonderfully appealing. Life doesn't make sense. Absurdities abound. Nothing to do but...