Saturday, January 22, 2011
Snow Removal Theory
The amount of snow is but part of this regional situation. In areas where measurable snow is rare, the roads get whacked by as little as a couple of inches. The locals have no clue how to deal with it. They drive in it like the roads are just wet and end up in the ditch, the curb, or into another car. They usually do not have very many plows ready to take on significant snowfall and only the main drags get serious attention, leaving neighborhoods to their own devices. A snow storm can create a very ugly place to live south of the Mason Dixon Line.
My first real memory of snow removal was maybe 50 years ago in Bethesda, Maryland. My dad handed me a special kid's snow shovel and we went out and dug out the cars. There have not been very many winters since I haven't at least picked up a snow shovel a few times. Many winters it seemed I never put that snow shovel down. Not for very long anyway.
So, it is no wonder I have come up with my own take on snow removal.
Up here the roads are pretty much ready to drive whenever you want to head out, or when you can get out. Snow removal budgets are huge here. Lots of trucks and crews who do a damn fine job most days of keeping roads drivable. Once a storm starts, the trucks are attacking it repeatedly until it stops. Unless it is on a weekend. Then they might only make a few passes, leaving the bulk of the cleanup for after the last flake has fallen.
Winter 2010-2011 has gotten off to an odd start. I was wearing shorts and a tee shirt well into November. I think we had one snow of consequence just before Christmas which salvaged the "White Christmas" everyone likes to see on postcards, gift cards, and outside on Christmas morning. I was beginning to think all that work I did to my snow blower at the end of last season was wasted effort. What was I thinking? This is Maine. The snow always comes. Just be patient.
According to some real estate website that offers information on areas around the country for prospective emigres from away, Acton's average snowfall is 66" a year. That's 31" over the national average. As of today we have received in the last two weeks almost half our yearly average. Counting the paltry 10" or so in December, we are at 40 plus inches for this winter. We still have at least 2 & 1/2 months to go.
All of this snow means that snow removal is a big part of our lives. How big depends on how far we want to take it. Personally, I have exhibited several different attitudes over the years. From wilfully ignoring it to anal retentive clearing every flake from my drive.
Ignoring it does not work unless one is comfortable with not leaving the house for weeks at a time. Anal retentive snow removal might be good for some folks who are wound tight to begin with, but I found I just could not keep up the intensity required to create and maintain the "perfect driveway". There's a couple of old dudes who live next to each other on Rte 109 who engage in driveway battles every storm. I think they both are out there as soon as the first inch falls, hoping to get a jump on the guy next door. Every time I go by, their drives are clean right down to the pavement.
So I have hit the happy medium. I ignore it as long as I can, but when I do go after it, I hit it with a vengeance. And I am not afraid to use hand weapons either. I take it seriously once I get started and move it as far away as possible given the equipment I have to work with at the time. Because I know that in another week, I am likely to face another foot of the stuff.
I never retreat, I just reload.
Uh,....... later I guess. I have to go clean up what the town plow just put back in my driveway. Damn, I just love Winter.