Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oh, Woe Is Snow!

I diligently went out on Thursday evening and dug out the area in front of my garage door, and some of the driveway, too. At the end, I was still suspicious that the snow between the treads that M's SUVhad left was too high for my car to traverse, but I thought it was good enough that I would at least be able to give it a go for work on Friday morning.

Friday morning came, and I got up as usual. I checked outside and saw something from a nightmare--the snow was back! Everything that I had so diligently cleared the evening before had been filled back in by the wind overnight! There it was, mocking me--I saw a very slight indentation that indicated the areas I had shoveled and shoveled and shoveled to clear, but that was the only hint that I had ever been outside the night before. Even my footprints had been filled in. The snow I had piled up from shoveling was still piled up, though, so this drifted snow must have come from the roof and the yard and the fields. So yet again, no driving to work for me. I drove M to work in his SUV and then went to get groceries and a second snow shovel (I have never seen Walmart's parking lot so empty) before slogging home again to freelance. (Hey, we have to pay the bills somehow, and if I couldn't drive to work, I was still going to make the best of it.)

Yesterday, the sun was out, the temperature was in the high 20s, and the wind was mild, so M and I again went outside to clear. This time, I spent 3 hours outside (M was with me for about 2 of it) and cleared the area in front of my garage door alone and about half the driveway with M's help. Finally, we were sweaty and exhausted and couldn't stand without falling over, so M treated the remaining snow and slush with salt. We had cleared enough snow away that by the time we were finished, the sun had finished melting whatever we hadn't been able to clean up, so we were satisfied that we would be able to finish the rest today.

This morning, the thermometer read 36 degrees outside, so I thought shoveling would be a breeze, especially with the fantastic second snow shovel I had bought Friday, which had proved to be far more effective at clearing packed snow than our other shovel. Well, I was wrong. Things had melted just enough that I couldn't get much of a handle on things. Whereas yesterday, the snow had been packed tightly enough that one or two good shoves of the shovel would break up iceberg-sized pieces, this morning, every shove or scoop attempt I made seemed to simply pack the slush together more tightly. This was not going to do.

Finally, I told M that we should test it. No use exhausting ourselves if my car could get out, after all, because that was the point of this little exercise. So I pulled my car out of the garage and drove down the driveway. I slid a little in the slush, but no problem there. Ah, but when it came time to pull out of the driveway, it took a very long time to get enough traction to pull out. That isn't a problem, of course, at an intersection, say, at a stoplight, where everyone can see you sliding a bit, or on a nice long flat stretch of road. But our driveway, of course, is at the top of a hump that most people can't see the top of in time to slow down because they drive far too fast and don't expect the driveway. So pulling out of our driveway in the best conditions is always a little risky, even when you can go from 0 to 60 in only a couple of seconds.

Anyway, I drove down the road, turned around, and put my car into low before turning in to the drive. I made it halfway up the initial incline and then spun my tires feebly. I was going nowhere. But maybe, I reasoned, I could use the same process that had gotten me back into the garage on Thursday afternoon. So I backed up a little and then pulled forward again. *grumble* Just more useless tire spinning. I tried the process again. This time, I fishtailed a little, but nothing productive. M signaled for me to stop after I reversed once again, and he started shoveling the tracks out. Turns out that I was losing traction right where he had stopped spreading salt the night before.

So he started digging out that area, up to the top of the drive's incline, and I started digging out the area next to the road, in all the crap that had been piled up by the state snowplows and had since been very slowly thinned by M's efforts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday but that had still managed to suck my car tires firmly down, like a suckling infant on a mother's breast.

Finally, M believed he had the top of the incline cleared and told me to try it again.


I parked my car back in the garage, and we finished clearing out the tracks on the incline (we're letting the stuff in the middle melt on its own now that my car's undercarriage can clear it) and the rest of the crap at the bottom of the drive onto the road.

Now I am no longer prisoner on my own property. Not that that's a bad thing, of course, if I had vacation days and didn't HAVE to make it to work to make a living (I ran out of freelance work on Friday afternoon)...

Lucky me, I get to go back to work tomorrow. It will be a bittersweet return, however, with three days' worth of work piled up for me and a fellow employee, whom I was beginning to count as a close friend, let go on Friday (not because she was a bad worker--quite the contrary, she kicks some major ass!--but because her security clearance wasn't quite up to par for this particular branch of Federal service).

Stringham high: Woo! I can go back to work!

Stringham low: This storm required the use of an entire 5-gallon bucket of ice melt to get our driveway clear enough (but nowhere near completely clear) for my car to get out and back in.

Stringham super-high: Warm weather is making an appearance this week--in the 50s by next weekend!

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