Snow day, the sequel.

Snow day yesterday. Snow day TODAY. It’s like: And here’s your second hot-fudge sundae, ma’am. I had enough cabin fever that I just went out to re-shovel the sidewalk.

Now, I’ve gone on at tiresome length here before about how this is actually sort of a favorite chore for me, because, unlike writing or cleaning or child-rearing, it’s a job that gets done and — at least until the next snowfall — stays done. Because I like shoveling, I do it often. Because I do it often, I never have all that much to clear at one time. Because the labor is usually light and exercise is the best aid to thinking invented, I get a little wool-gathering done.

Today I contemplated libertarianism. Ann Arbor has a snow-clearing ordinance that is, I’m told, rigidly enforced. Fort Wayne has a snow-clearing ordinance that is never enforced. Guess which city has more pleasant winter walking conditions? Is man perfectable? I don’t think so. Hence, laws that dictate courtesy to your dog-walking neighbors. On the other hand, there’s talk of now requiring dog-walkers to carry “appropriate equipment” for poop removal, under penalty of law. As one who always does so, I do not fear this proposed ordinance. But I’ve never checked “The Turner Diaries” or “Fun Things to do With Ammonium Nitrate and Fuel Oil” out of the library, either, and yet I fear the Patriot Act.

Just random thoughts while snow-shoveling. My neighbor came out and took a photograph of the piles left by the plow. As though anticipating I’d be wondering about this behavior, she came over to explain: See, she had devoted great time and effort last night to selective shoveling, making sure the snow pushed up by the plow remained in the street, and this morning the city had send a backhoe around to selectively dig out a few properties left dammed behind the plow-wash (if that isn’s a word, it should be), and clear the parts of the road the plow couldn’t reach. Said backhoe had picked up her carefully arranged piles and dumped them right on her park strip!

I admitted to being mystified by the offense here. She explained further that now the road salt in the snow would kill her grass.

“I gotta tell you,” I said. “I’ve never in my life seen a lawn that could be killed by winter,” thinking of the winter when the city of Fort Wayne failed to pick up the last pile of fall leaves from our park strip for weeks and weeks, and then it got snowed on and salted and otherwise abused, and then the idiot macho redneck across the street parked his idiot macho pickup truck with the right-side wheels over the curb on it, and yet — in the spring, tender green shoots.

I didn’t tell her all of this. But I should have, because she remained unsatisfied, and hmpfed back into her house, right past the Howard Dean sign in the front yard.

I went back to shoveling. I reflected that my idiot macho neighbor is smack in the target market for truck balls.

And now it’s 10:20 a.m., the sidewalk and drive are clear, I’ve gotten my cardio in for the day, along with my daily allotment of idle thought. Think I’ll take a shower.

Posted at 10:23 am in Uncategorized |

8 responses to “Snow day, the sequel.”

  1. Bob said on January 28, 2004 at 10:39 am

    I, too, take pleasure in shoveling snow. This morning I got an early start, and when my fingers started to go numb after only a little while, I came inside for a warmup. Only then did I realize that the temp was in the single digits, with an invigorating breeze.

    Fort Wayne can’t enforce its snow-shoveling ordinance because the budget wouldn’t stand up to hiring enough officers to write the tickets. Here in West Central, the yuppie wanna-bes who think they’re so mucking fuch are the ones who never touch a shovel, all winter long.

    The city and county are major offenders, too. On the bridges, the plows bury the sidewalks under three feet of snow, ice and frozen slush, and they stay that way until the spring thaw, making winter movement arduous for non-drivers. Once, when I called the street department to complain about the buried bridge sidewalks, someone told me that “bridges are the county’s responsibility.” I suggested that they ticket the county commissioners under the snow removal ordinance. I don’t think they followed through.

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  2. jcburns said on January 28, 2004 at 11:09 am

    I think you’re cumulatively making the argument that Michiganders are a tougher crowd when it comes to snow than Hoosiers (even though you’re just a handful of miles further North than Fort Wayne.)

    Damn. Now I just spent 30 seconds of my life contemplating whether that should have been “further” or “farther.” Were’s Deb when you need her?

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  3. Nance said on January 28, 2004 at 11:14 am

    Of course I see no such argument. The miracle of interpretation. Maybe there’s a school of academic thought in that. Oh wait — there is.

    Quick lesson: “Farther” refers to distance which can be measured, i.e, I am a few miles farther north.

    “Further” is for distances that cannot be measured in conventional terms, i.e. You have driven me further toward the brink of insanity.

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  4. alex said on January 28, 2004 at 11:49 am

    There’s nothing like wintertime in the mean streets of Chicago. We’ve got ordinances out the wazoo, but in practice it all amounts to anarchy.

    Sidewalks are a crazy quilt of shoveled and unshoveled. Plenty of people can be seen holding the dog leash with one hand and wearing a plastic grocery bag like a mitt over the other, yet you’ll still encounter turds aplenty underfoot in the whole morass.

    As for parking in the street? Even though an ordinance forbids it, people set out lawn chairs, kitchen stools, all manner of household goods as if it were spring cleanup day just to mark the spot they cleared for themselves after the plows have gone through and done their thing. And you don’t dare move someone’s stuff and park in their spot unless you want your finish keyed or a cinder block through your windshield.

    You’d think enforcement would be a cinch. Why, they’ve always got enough manpower to walk the streets and ticket vehicles that don’t have all the nutty stickers and permits required by ordinance around here.

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  5. anne said on January 28, 2004 at 4:30 pm

    Cabin fever indeed. Two days of no school on top of Monday off for high school is a bit too much to take. When my kid finally got up and got moving this afternoon, I practically threw the car keys at her.

    I like to shovel too. But yesterday I didn’t quite get out there early enough and my elderly neighbor did my walk and driveway with his blower! We got him back later by clearing the end of his driveway after the plow came through. I hope we didn’t mess up any selectively shoveled piles.

    There are a lot of obsessed, humorless nuts like your neighbor around these parts, don’t let her get to you. I’ll have to look for the Howard Dean sign later when I walk through your neighborhood.

    I’ve been hearing for the last umpteen million years that A2 rigidly enforces that snow removal law. I think occasionally it does get enforced but it seems to be on a random basis. There are always a lot of walks that remain unshoveled until the snow melts. I know where most of them are, at least in this part of town.

    My biggest problem this afternoon is that my nephew just called to ask me if I wanted to ski and my damn skis are even farther (right?) north at our cabin at Houghton Lake where I reluctantly left them last weekend.

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  6. Connie said on January 28, 2004 at 5:38 pm

    I spent the great blizzard of 78 in Ann Arbor. Could have used you and your handy shovel. My roomie and I dug around our buried cars on and off for two days, when my then boyfriend now husband showed up and did the macho thing and shoveled us out in what seemed like minutes. After breaking drifts and rescuing a stranded motorist on 23.

    The day before his arrival we had cross country ski’d down our hill to the Kroger on Broadway where we filled our packs with free rapidly aging bananas. And realized we’d have to hike back up the hill carrying our skis.

    Fondest winter memory of Ann Arbor: lots of snow, lots of sun and blue skies, a lovely walk along a snow filled park like canal of some kind, somewhere not too far north northeast of the old train depot.

    All this snow isn’t near as fun as it used to be. Maybe it’s my teenaged driver.


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  7. mtk said on January 28, 2004 at 6:03 pm

    I, too, enjoy shoveling. As a community peace gesture, I try to do the walks of my neighbors on either side every so often just so they’ll look past whatever annoying traits or tendencies my family might introduce into their lives. I suspect earlier decades and centuries were more like that — helping neighbors out sometimes smoothed relationships all over the place. (“Say what you want about the Joneses’ bratty sons, they helped us build our barn a few years back, and milked old Bessie when Pa had the influenza last spring….”) As for shoveling, Ypsilanti takes crap about a lot of things (poor schools, some run-down areas) but in the snow-removal department Ypsi City beats the pants off Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti Twp. and Pittsfield Twp. (the other “big” municipalities hereabouts). Bring on the snow; they’ll be rolling out the trucks before 10 minutes of flakes have come down.

    The recent cold snap brought back the unremovable recollections of that super cold winter in Fort Wayne about 10 years ago, when it didn’t get above freezing for 2 weeks straight, and I had to go into work on days when it was minus-15 at 5 a.m. and the snowplows hadn’t come yet. What year was that?

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  8. anne said on January 28, 2004 at 8:58 pm

    I think I was in E. Lansing at the time of that 1978 storm but I think I remember it. I moved to A2 in 1979. I well remember the Broadway Kroger, although the Westgate Kroger has always been my main store, I used to walk home from working at the EPA to my apartment on the west side past the Broadway Kroger.

    Connie, I don’t know how your teenage driver is, both of mine (knock on wood!!!!!) have been very reliable. Despite the snow days here, the roads have been pretty clear, otherwise I’d be more nervous. But teenage driving IS nervewracking. I try not to think about it too much and good luck to you!

    And, I have no experience about how Ypsi and A2 compare about snow removal. But I can believe Ypsi probably does it better, given the weird stuff I’ve seen in A2 the last couple days. Maybe UP municipalities could make a little money giving snow-removal workshops to down-state folks (or is that kind of thing kosher, probably not).

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