1 – The Agony
Well, the new car shelter stood up to the wind. The end panels tried to slip away, but Olga and I caught them and strapped them down. We waited for the ultimate test – a good snowfall.
That happened last Wednesday night. We woke up to 20 centimetres of pristine flakes (For you metrically illiterate, that’s 8 inches). Shelter still standing. Just a coupla inches clinging to the peaky part.
Boy, it was pretty! (The shelter too.) The first good snowfall covers a multitude of backyard sins: The gnarly remnants of the flower beds. The last piles of undisposed-of leaves. The raw excavation for the unfinished pond. And, the chips and bark from our wood-splitting project.
Okay, truth time. That Thursday we dug out the remaining blocks of birch and ran them through the electric splitter. An hour’s work – okay, maybe an hour and a half. And we raked up the chips and bark that littered the snow cover. We’ll get the rest in the spring.
Were we ready for winter now? Hey, silly question.
Of course not. I hadn’t started up the snow blower yet this fall. I had comforted myself with the thought, Why shouldn’t it start? Silly question. It’s a machine, stupid: That’s why. Machines and I have an adversarial relationship. That relationship stretches from yard machines to household machines, such as my television and my computer. (Actually, the computer’s fine – it’s the Internet connection that’s always doubtful.) When something goes wrong with them, the solution usually rests with a technician who resides 300 kilometres away.
So I let the snow cover lie undisturbed for a full day, while the municipal snowplow roared up and down our road and I contemplated the sound of distant neighbours tossing the pretty white stuff left and right with their functioning machines. It turns out that nobody within a 10-kilometre radius was in the business anymore of private snowplowing. I’d have to import a plow from Geraldton, more than 20 kilometres away. Pretty costly, that.
Friday morning, I set out to dig out the Kia. Okay, correction. The Kia was snow-free, but it was snow locked. The distance from the shelter to the municipal road was about 25 metres, and the path had to be 3 metres wide. That was 25 m x 3 m x 20 cm of snow. That was 15 cubic metres of snow. (For you Americans, that’s almost the same in cubic yards.)
How much does a cubic metre of snow weigh? The answer is not pretty. And it had to be tossed anywhere from one metre to two-and-a-half metres.
Okay, that’s not so far.
I’d be using a shovel.
(Continued in Chapter 2)