Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to walk on top of the snow. People from warmer climes are going to wonder what the heck I’m talking about. I’ll explain.
When snow falls from the sky, it piles up nicely. We shovel it and snowblow it out of the way. Sometimes at night that new-fallen snow can look really pretty — sparkly. But those who shovel aren’t necessarily entranced by the sight. They just know it’s something more that has to be moved.
When snow comes from the sky with lots of wind, we say it comes horizontally. And sometimes it does literally just that. Snow with that much speed behind it doesn’t pile up nicely. It drifts and swirls and is rarely sparkly. It forms drifts that are like concrete. Think sand dunes with attitude. When you step on one of those drifts, however, it doesn’t slide from beneath your feet. It squeaks.
Yeah, really. It squeaks. I don’t know if it’s the boots or the snow particles complaining, but it makes a particularly memorable noise. Think of what a golf ball sounds like falling into the cup. You could tell that sound anywhere. This is the same idea. Snow during extremely cold weather sounds different than snow at the melting point.
I don’t make Charlie the Puggle go for walks when the weather is below zero. He snuggles down on the couch under his blanket and pouts. But when we let him out to the fenced back yard and he comes back in running, we know he understands. Sometimes he comes back in on three feet rather than four. Yes, I’ve tried putting boots on him, and that’s another story.
Today it was exactly zero degrees, so I figured we’d give it a try. There was no wind — not a whiff. That’s a rare day in North Dakota. It was still dark at 6 a.m., but by the time we got home at 6:30, the sun is starting to appear.
Poor Charlie. He can’t reach the trees to leave p-mail, so he has to resort to tinkling on the sides of the snow where it’s been shoveled or blown out of the way. Snowblowers generally leave a little snow on the ground, and that’s fine with me. There’s a layer of ice on the sidewalk that I’d rather not walk on.
A few of the sidewalks are shoveled right down to the pavement. Wow, those folks must have clean houses, too. Other sidewalks are clogged with snow that’s drifted in the recent wind and no one’s bothered to clear it away. I’m afraid our sidewalks fall into that category. Both Charlie and I could walk on top of it.
I don’t know what it would take to get that stuff moved — shovel or snowblower. It’s hard. I found out just how hard.
Our driveway is narrow. Even during the best of conditions, it can be hard to navigate, especially when you’re making a right turn into it from the near lane. You have to aim for the telephone pole right there and make a hard turn. When it’s lined with snow, it’s even harder. And then add a little ice in the driveway to make things really interesting.
Normally this winter, I’ve been aiming for the telephone pole and making a hard right on four-wheel-drive so I can just push my way through the snow. I’ve rearranged that snowbank numerous times. The city garbage truck also rearranges that snow because they back into the driveway to reach our Dumpster.
Tuesday was the day after a winter blizzard warning. The snow had been blowing around so much it’s rightfully called a ground blizzard. Stiff winds for a couple of days had turned those soft snow piles into hardened banks. I made it through the drift to get out onto 25th Street which is an emergency route, so I knew it would be clear sailing after that.
Getting back home was a little trickier. Some of the side roads had been plowed and some of them hadn’t. I had my Kia in four-wheel-drive and didn’t even think about how hard the snowbank next to the driveway was. I slowed down and prepared to make my right-hand turn. I aimed for the telephone pole and gunned it.
I heard some crunching and figured I’d significantly rearranged the snowbank. I have a Kia Sorento, so I have pretty good clearance. Unfortunately the snow is almost as high as my car. I pulled into the garage and peeked at the front bumper. I’d sacrificed a hunk on the bottom, where a fog light would be installed if I had them. I took off the loose pieces and pictured myself gluing the pieces of fiberglass back together like a puzzle in the spring.
I found a few more pieces in the driveway, and I’ve rescued them. Maybe I’ll have all the pieces, maybe I won’t. Until then my car looks as if it’s missing a tooth.