Time to rev up the snow blower


“Shoveling is the worst thing for you.”

I didn’t say anything, knowing the explanation was to follow.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s snow or dirt, people make the mistake of taking big shovel loads,” he said, looking up from lacing his sneakers. This was locker-room talk Saturday morning at Tennis Rhode Island. It’s not the sort of discourse that’s going to make CNN headlines or, for that matter, be of concern to anyone really. Maybe not. Snow is in the forefront at the moment now that everyone is coming off cloud nine from the greatest comeback Super Bowl victory of all time.

How much snow are we going to get? When will it start? When can we expect it to stop? Will it be the heavy and slushy stuff or light and dry?

We’ve come to expect answers to all those questions from our cell phones and tablets. And once we have the answers, they become gospel.

No longer do people say, “It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.” Rather, it’s, “We’re going to get 14 inches by the time the storm clears out by 6.”

So, understandably, the locker room talk about shoveling was of interest. We all would face such an activity by the end of the weekend.

The next revelation was sobering and reason to think twice about shoveling.

“You know more people die shoveling than...” We waited for the comparison.

Locker room blabber came to a halt. Might one of us become the latest statistic? How many die shoveling snow? We’d have to wait for someone to Google the answer on their phone. It didn’t go that far, however, because there is an alternative and it had us all nodding.

“I love my snow blower, had it out in the storm.”

There were smiles. This is a shared experience. The thrill of rolling down a stretch of pavement with an arch of snow reaching up; cutting through drifts and laying bare the ground as effortlessly as mowing the lawn. There’s more to it than making work easy and sparing the back pain. It’s being in command of a machine and having a plan.

They don’t make automatic snow blowers. At least I don’t know of one, and Google hasn’t made a driverless one, yet. If you have a two-stage blower, you have forward and reverse gears. There’s the challenge of operating the chute without stopping so as to direct the snow. And then there’s perfecting the turns so as not to miss a spot and maintain momentum.

The plan of attack can vary depending on the wind and priorities. Clearing a path to the dog pen is a big one for us. But it’s not a matter of doing that first. The plan must be designed to minimize the effort so as to be throwing snow all the time.

We didn’t get into all those details; sharing snowblowing strategies would have to wait.

But the call to rev our snow blowers was clear. Tennis was a diversion, the real exercise was about to begin…and we wouldn’t be lifting a shovel, either.


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