Brilliance Achieved While Clearing Snow

Every snow removal event begins with noble intentions. This time I will shovel. Shoveling is great exercise. Old people sometimes summon heart attacks with the effort of shoveling, so it must burn incredible calories. And shoveling forces quality time with my yard, my land, my little fiefdom on the corner of Nimitz St. and Pamela Pl. I can survey my kingdom like a baron while I scrape the concrete. And shoveling builds fortitude and work ethic, like I'm a role playing game character. Every stroke of the snow shovel is a point. When I was kid, I leveled up every few snowfalls, but an advanced guy like me takes years to unlock new achievements. Still. Someday, when I need to battle an abominable snowman or other extreme ice creature, I'll be ready.

You know what? The snow's a little heavier than I assumed. There's a few more inches than I thought. The snowblower will clear the brunt of it, but I'll clean up with a shovel. That will still count.

Jobs That, Like Clearing Snow, Will Eventually Do Themselves

1. Building demolition

2. Artificially aging new clothes so they look worn

3. Killing livestock

4. Wiping up spilled water off of surfaces that are unaffected by standing water

5. ???

My brother and I handled most of our family’s shoveling when we were kids, but not without an admirable amount of whining.  My dad, with saintly compassion, suggested we try a new approach.  “Try making a game out of it,” he suggested.  “Guess how many rows it will take you to finish the sidewalk, and see how close you are.”  As he had shoveled considerably more miles of sidewalk than I had, I tried it.  Now I count everything - minutes until the end of my work shift, hours until the weekend, socks that need to be folded, words in my writing, and swipes of the toothbrush. The long section of the sidewalk always takes about 90 rows.

People Who Benefit Most From Snowless Winters

1. Flip-flop manufacturers

2. Grave diggers

3. Bugs

4. Kids who really like rolling down hills

5. Bike messengers?

One thing I care about a lot more because of the snow - my shoes. We all do up here. We all have to. In some parts of the world, people can just throw on any pair of shoes at any time. Can you imagine what that would be like? Can you imagine how much less pressure those people face when it's time to leave the house? Up here, one needs to consider how much snow fell, what type of snow fell, how much ice covers the sidewalks, what kind of ice, how warm it will get, and what tasks the day will contain. Only then can an appropriate pair of shoes be selected, and we all know exactly which ones will work in every winter situation.

One thing I care about a lot less because of the snow - A few weeks before a particularly nasty snowstorm about ten years ago, a middle-aged gentleman and his wife moved into the townhouse across the parking lot from my wife and me.

He drove a burnt-orange, shiny Firebird.

After the aforementioned snowstorm, he attempted to drive his perfectly stereotypic mid-life-crisis-mobile.

He spun his tires for ten minutes, spraying dirty slush fifteen feet up the side of our building.

Three weeks later, he sold the car.

He explained to me, “It just didn’t make sense for winter.” In fact, no cars make sense for winter. They're all covered in a salt glaze, and no matter what you do, your floor mats will be thick with dirty ice balls. So give up. You can get a car wash in April.

Every time I turn on the TV in the winter, I hope that one of the local weather anchors will break into show, out of breath with excitement.

She will try to collect herself as her weather teammate, also visibly perturbed, will furrow his brow and switch from his normal, forced exuberance to a calm monotone that indicates what he is about to say is very, very serious.

Then, they will both try to piece together the following story.

Meteorologist scouts stationed in northern Canada were awoken by the screeching of their instruments.

They sprang from their cots still half asleep, but were shocked into total alertness at the readings racing across their screens.

They ran a few tests that confirmed the wonderful news - the jet stream shifted south, which meant the south side of the Eau Claire, with my house as the epicenter, would be receiving a massive, record-breaking, mind-boggling amount of snow.

Then, the two anchors,  overcome by their happiness, would hug.

I really like snow. Sometimes I just need to remind myself.

Eric Rasmussen