To follow the path, look to the master, follow the master, walk with the master, see through the master, become the master.
– Zen Proverb
Where snow in my driveway is concerned, this pretty much captures my philosophy.
To follow the wide swath from my garage to the street I look to my snowblower, I follow my snowblower, I walk with my snowblower, I see through my snowblower, and when I ultimately reach Nirvana, that great mountain of snow that the plows have unceremoniously pushed across the end of my driveway, I become the master.
Usually with a shovel.
Because if enlightenment means getting my car out of the driveway, I am well on the path. I am the Mr. Miyagi of winter storms. Snow on, snow off. Show me shovel driveway.
Don’t get me wrong. I love snow. There is nothing so still as a windless storm releasing a night full of snowflakes sparkling through the veiled beacon glow of distant lamp posts.
And waking up to flocked trees and a pristine spread of reflected sunlight out the front door takes my breath away.
But when the rumble and grate of heavy steel plates pushed by big trucks across frozen streets interrupts the silence, the serenity quickly gives way to the harsh reality of an unplanned cardio workout. Which to be fair, also takes my breath away.
I have a 24 inch self-propelled 208cc gas-powered, dual stage Craftsman snowblower that I purchased at Sears years ago. I don’t know what any of this means, but the operative phrase here is “gas” powered. Because if it snows and you don’t have any and your car is still in the garage you must revert to a human-powered snow shovel in order to get the gas that you no longer need now that your driveway is cleared.
I learned this the hard way when it snowed unexpectedly just before Halloween and I awoke to zombies in my front yard that were covered in cold, wet, eskimo dandruff. After I became one with the shovel I became one with the zombies.
My snowblower boasts 8.5 horsepower of raw, snow throwing might. I think this is demeaning to snowblowers. Since when do horses shovel snow? Snowblower strength should be measured in more identifiable terms. For example, if I have a 23 kidpower snowblower I have a good idea of how much snow it can remove.
I shoveled a lot of snow as a kid. Against my will. Early on I learned that my dad was exempt from child labor laws. But when I discovered I could make a couple bucks from neighbors who cared more about their driveways than about exploiting children, I became a little more accepting of the task.
And then a kid up the block began to offer his services using his dad’s new snowblower and I was run out of business. I couldn’t afford a snowblower. My dad could, but he had me and his crazy disregard for child labor laws.
I finally acquired a snowblower when I took a mortgage on my first driveway which came with a garage and a house at the end. At the time I had no kids of my own to exploit, so I plunked down the equivalent of 400 driveway gigs one autumn in anticipation of winter snow.
But the snow didn’t come as promised that year. It didn’t come the next year either. The third year a nor'easter in January dropped 26 inches of snow in 6 hours.
Excited, I pulled on my big boots and Michelin Man snow gear and went out to yank the starter cord of my new snowblower which had been collecting dust for two years. It was stored safely in the garage in front of my car. The car I couldn’t move because of the snow I needed to clear with the snowblower that was blocked in by my car.
At least I had gasoline.
And a snow shovel.
But now when my snowblower sputters to life and chortles into an even combustion hum, I become one with my surroundings. I engage the augurs and move steadily forward on my self-created path to enlightenment, my mind as clear as the driveway behind me.
And I feel the raw sting of whipped snow like a thousand ice needles on my face because I have forgotten to rotate the chute downwind. And the vigorous vibrations of my gas powered engine makes me want to pee. And I have three layers of clothing on. And my fingers are numb. And the mighty snow plows with their shields of steel are pushing an insurmountable mountain of snow across the end of the driveway where I have inadvertently laid my shovel.
I don't know. If this is the path to enlightenment, maybe it is time to drive south for the winter.
If only I could get my car out of the driveway.