Wednesday, February 14, 2007


[posted by Callimachus]

This was a bad one. Al Gore must have been in town.

Not deep, but the temperatures while it fell hovered around freezing, then plunged. Then it sleeted. Which left us with a crust of ice over a thick layer of powder (the kind that slides right off a shovel like a pile of marbles unless you hold it on an engineer's level) atop three inches of glacial ice.

So first you hack through the crust, then you work the snow off to somewhere else, then you go to work hacking at the ice. I mean hacking. Those plastic Wal-Mart snow shovels are as useless as flyswatters. You need a real flensing tool, something Melville would have used to flay the blubber off a right whale.

The last time we had ice like this was '93, and the brick sidewalks all over town still bear cuneiform marks from the ice cutters. You have to strike it so hard it literally chips the bricks beneath.

It took me two hours to clear four squares of sidewalk.

I wonder how much snow I've shoveled in my life. The Big Ones -- 1977, '83, '87 -- and a hundred little ones. Sidewalks, driveways, parking spaces, friends' parking spaces. If you piled it all up, how much snow? A ton? More? If you laid it out as a single shovel-width track through six-inch snow, how long? How many miles.

And all that snow, as solid as cake, that strained my muscles over the years -- where is it now?