by Vicki L. Wilson
Take frequent breaks,
especially if you have
a broken heart.
Every ten minutes is good
Don’t get too out of breath.
Stop if it becomes too much.
Grief will come hard
whenever it wants.
Try not to get too cold,
Use a small shovel.
Lift from your knees.
Welcome to the second edition in my series on Survival Tips for Getting Plowed this holiday season. Today’s wealth of snow removal knowledge is for my hearty brethren around the polar north who have to deal with winter weather and shoveling this time of year. Here’s a couple of hard won pieces of advice on how to get plowed and stay plowed.
- Child Labor. This is an onerous subject when it comes to fast fashion and manufacture of athletic shoes, but when it comes to shoveling snow, it is a time honored tradition in the frozen north. You can cultivate your own child labor by spacing your progeny about 5 to 6 years apart, thereby maximizing the window which you have free labor under your roof. Or you can wave a few dollars under the twelve year old’s nose next door and see how much snow they will shovel. Don’t think of a young age as an obstacle to effective snow removal. Ten to fourteen year old’s will do things for five dollars that no self respecting sixteen year old will even consider, so hit them up young. Be sure to have a reasonable shovel for them to use and consider tipping if they do a great job. Not too much. Don’t drive up wages in the neighborhood, it will come back to haunt you come grass mowing season.
- Hire a professional. This may come as a shock to my readers, but sometimes paying $800 for a snow removal service for the season is a bargain. Don’t skimp, if you are going to hire a pro, hire one with a truck, a plow, a snow blower and references. Hire them early, like September, pay in cash and keep them coming back year after year if they exceed your expectations.
- Become self sufficient. Invest in the tools of the trade. There is nothing more satisfying than operating your own well running snow blower. Buy a big, 2 stage with a multiple gear transmission, something that will billow a little blue smoke when it starts up and has a pleasant ear rattling roar when you really get going. Buy a couple of shovels, a scoop shovel for heavy snow at end of the drive and a wider snow shovel for clearing snow on driveways and steps. Consider even investing in a snow sled. Then – train your 10 year old on the safe operation of your new snow eating monster and you combine tips 1 and 3 into a home run!
- FYI – Remember to pick up your outdoor rugs and welcome mats before you start running the snow blower. Running a welcome mat through your snow blower is not covered under most manufactures warranties.
- Bribe the neighbor. Sometimes there isn’t money in the budget for snow removal. When that’s the case, plan ahead. Start baking some muffins, pumpkin bread and cookies in early October. Drop over every two weeks to the Norwegian bachelor neighbor who appears to have a relatively new snow blower in his garage. Don’t let on right way your real intent. Just be neighborly. Offer to watch his dog if he goes away for the weekend. Invite them over for a beer and grilled steak in the fall. And then about mid November, drop the hint that you have an endless supply of hot chocolate and schnapps if he would be interested in plowing you out this year. Keep bringing the Christmas cookies, regardless of his response. Guilt works. Odds are 75 percent you are covered.
- Pretend you live in Florida and ignore it. This one requires a bit more endurance for pain and public ridicule from your neighbors, and possible fines from the county, but it is possible to just ignore the snow. Your walks and driveway will become a frozen morass of ruts and ice pot holes, treacherous to all who attempt to visit your home, but a good pair of boots with great traction should allow you to come and go just fine. Many a college student has used this option quite successfully all the way to spring.
Good luck and I hope these tips help you get plowed this holiday season!
by Edward Willett (with an assist from Milton)
When I consider how my morns are spent,
Or half my days, in this world, dark and wide.
With that snow shovel, frozen to my hide,
That seems so useless, though its blad is bent
To scrape so well the sidewalk, and present
The bare concrete (lest postman, coming, chide,
“I almost slipped; indeed, I could have died!”)
I mutter oaths; but Patience to prevent
that murmur, soon replies, “Snow doth not need
Either man’s shovel or his slat; who best
Scrapes clear his walk, to Snow is naught; its state
Is frozen. Thousands at its bidding speed
To plough and scrape and shovel without rest;
But it will melt if you just stand and wait.”