It started out innocently with a forecast of 1 to 3 inches and quickly morphed into 3 to 6 inches of snow overnight Friday into Saturday. Although we experienced temperatures close to 60 on Tuesday, here we were just three days later facing an approaching snowstorm.
Like many Long Island homeowners, we spent that Friday evening preparing—inventorying rock salt quantities and positioning the shovels just outside the front doors. We extricated the boots, hats and gloves from their summer home under the stairs and accounted for all our scarves. Like they have been saying for the last few years on Game of Thrones, Winter is coming. Whether or not the weather guy got it right this time is irrelevant. Sooner or later, we are inevitably going to get snow here in the Northeast.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know that my love/hate relationship with snow is almost all hate. My mother has adorable pictures of me as a child, standing on gigantic snow piles, wrapped up like that kid from A Christmas Story with only my eyes visible. Although I recall enjoying sleigh riding and making snowmen as much as the next kid, my vivid memories of the events are the constricting preparation to get outside and the inevitable wetness accompanying the meltdown once back inside. But who doesn’t love a snow day at that age?
Growing older, snow days meant more than just a day off from school. You were no longer building a snowman and watching as your father and uncles shoveled the driveway and sidewalks of everyone within walking distance, you were now a participant. You most likely had your own car to shovel out. Suddenly, those romantic images of a winter wonderland turned into a nightmare every time the Town of Oyster Bay snowplow came barreling down your block after you just cleared the driveway.
Things changed dramatically when you got married and owned a home. Your father and uncles are now depending on you to help them. What happened to the neighborhood kids looking to make a couple of bucks? They were everywhere when I was in my twenties and couldn’t afford them, but they have become extinct when I need them the most.
After years of struggling with shovels and back aches, I bought a snow blower. As a kid, there were always one or two guys in the neighborhood with snow blowers, steering their noisy monsters up and down their driveways. We’d marvel at how high the snow would be expelled, arching over parked cars. They were so happy to be piloting the blower, they would do four or five of their neighbor’s houses. Of course, my house was never in their geographic area.
I’ll never forget the first time I fired up my snow blower and the feeling of power it gave me. No longer would I struggle with the backbreaking drudgery of snow removal. Modern machinery was doing the work for me. In my eyes, this was man’s greatest achievement since the toaster. If I wasn’t worried about my eyelids freezing shut, I would have been weeping with joy.
Through the years, I’ve upgraded my snow blower a few times, each time getting bigger and better. Wider mouth, better wheels, 2-stage thrower, electric start, even a headlight. Yes, I think I’m in love with my Ariens snow blower. As a Mets fan, I even love its bright orange color. Was it expensive? You bet it was. Was it worth it? Every penny.
The depth limitations of my early blowers required two or three passes during a massive storm. And if the snow was on the heavy side, fuhgeddaboudit. Now, I wait until the snow has stopped and just fire up the Ariens. Oh, the sweet sound of victory.
No snow blower is perfect, but this one is close. Maybe someday I’ll turn into a snowbird and fly south for the winter, leaving behind the freezing weather and especially the snow, for the younger generation. Until then, my Ariens will get me through another winter. After all, the South has those hideous Palmetto bugs…
Note: As this is the final Long Island Living column for 2017, I wanted to thank you all for your support and hope I was able to bring a smile to your face every now and then. Have a happy, healthy and safe Holiday season and I’ll see you all again in 2018.