The Retired Man’s Guide to Snow Removal, by Ralph Gamelli
5:00 a.m. Wake up and look out window. Be happy that yesterday’s forecast was right—several inches of new snow has fallen. There’s work to be done.
5:10 a.m. Get dressed in six layers of heavy winter clothing. Begin interminable wait until 9 a.m., the earliest possible hour that civilized society has deemed acceptable for a person to start his snow blower on a Saturday morning.
6:30 a.m. Start snow blower.
7:20 a.m. After taking twice as long as necessary to clear driveway, start work on the sidewalk and curb in front of your mailbox. Thoroughly brush all snow from top of mailbox itself. (Drying with a clean, soft cloth is optional.)
7:45 a.m. With shovel, scrape off whatever snow powder remains on driveway. Important: powder depth should be negligible. If enough exists to make a vague footprint, restart snow blower at once and go over entire surface again.
8:00 a.m. Using snow blower, blaze trail from driveway to tool shed, from tool shed to back gate, from back gate to hatchway, from hatchway to rear garage door, from rear garage door to back door of house. (Though you’ll never again set foot on this intricate network of cleared paths, make sure they’re plenty wide enough to comfortably walk on, in theory.)
8:55 a.m. Pee break.
8:57 a.m. Back outside, wave to neighbors who are finally beginning work on their own driveways. Marvel at their ability to sleep in when there’s so much work to be done.
8:58 a.m. Meticulously clean off snow blower and position it at a curious angle in an apparently random area of driveway. (This will appear strange to everyone in the neighborhood, but you alone will know the sun is melting the few snow particles still clinging to the machine.)
9:30 a.m. Notice that neighbors have gone back inside, their driveways already taken care of. Shake head.
9:31 a.m. Skim off fine powder that the wind has blown back onto driveway. (Don’t save this for later or the sun will melt it before you can get to it.)
9:45 a.m. Trudge around entire house carefully removing snow from hedges, bushes, etc. (Note: A paintbrush works best on leafy plants.)
10:20 a.m. Clear fire hydrant so that no snow exists within a one-foot radius. Admire work. Enlarge snow-free zone to two feet. Good. Now make it three.
10:50 a.m. Since you’re near the sidewalk, use shovel to widen walking area by one to two inches on each side. (Do not walk with shovel in front of you; instead use an awkward sidestep motion along entire 80 feet of sidewalk, one side and then the other, completing approximately 900 mini-shovel-lifts.)
11:25 a.m. Reposition snow blower by two feet to best catch the changing angle of the sun. (All residual snow has long since melted off the blower, but the sun is in the process of drying it nicely.)
11:30 a.m. Pee break.
11:32 a.m. Shovel backdoor steps more than sufficiently, then use push broom until not one single snow molecule remains. Repeat.
11:50 a.m. Trudge around house again fashioning overly wide, five-foot-long trenches that lead away from lower drain spouts. Briefly contemplate what your life has become. Lengthen trenches to seven feet.
12:15 p.m. With push broom, remove fine powder the wind has once again blown onto driveway. (Powder need not be real anymore; feel free to imagine its existence.)
12:30 p.m. Reposition snow blower five inches to the left.
12:35 p.m. Lunch
12:45 p.m. Begin lengthy process of widening driveway and backyard paths by one inch.
1:30 p.m. While you’re at it, widen the sidewalk again.
2:10 p.m. Reposition snow blower, remove powder, widen everything, brush, scrape, look, think. Is there nothing more that can be done?
3:00 p.m. Put away all equipment, go inside, fall immediately asleep. Have pleasant dream where you spend all day mowing lawn.
11:00 p.m. Wake up suddenly and realize you never cleared off the front walk.
11:02 p.m. Fire up snow blower.
Ralph Gamelli has been published at McSweeneys Internet Tendency, The Morning News and The Bygone Bureau. He’s written the very first Internet author’s bio not to include a Twitter link.
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