My caution doesn’t stem from concern about breaking bones when I slip on ice – even though that is a likely outcome every time there’s a snow storm. I’ve broken bones in both of my hands and still have scars from a shattered wrist, a result of my general lack of grace on ice.
Nor is my concern about getting into a car accident – although I have had numerous close calls on snow-packed roads.
Instead, I am on high alert with the realization that I MUST be the first in my neighborhood to clear the driveway. Anything else is an indication of my failure to accept my neighbors’ challenge for a snow shovel showdown.
My husband claims that I’m imagining such a competition and insists I’m using it as an excuse to once again indulge my tendency to be a bit obsessive.
While I admit to being obsessive, I am also very observant. Since I walk my German Shepherd every day before dawn and again after work, I know the rhythm of the neighborhood. I know who goes to work early, who works a strange schedule and who doesn’t work at all. I know who takes meticulous care of their yard and who takes shortcuts. I know who is friendly, who likes dogs and who pretends they have no neighbors at all. I also know which neighbors are avid competitors in the snow shovel showdown.
They are the individuals who keep close tabs on the latest weather report to determine the precise time they should tackle their driveway. Their mission? To ensure their driveway is black asphalt bordered with piles of snow by the time the first car drives by.
A few years ago, some neighbors tried to gain an unfair advantage by purchasing snow blowers that created perfectly straight lines along their driveways rather than the uneven mounds of snow. Since no one in my neighborhood has a particularly long or unwieldy driveway, the straight edges of snow never gained any respect.
What does gain respect is the sound of a snow shovel scraping pavement.
I woke to that sound the other morning after a recent snow fall and immediately recognized it as a call to arms.
I should have known my next-door neighbor would be out before me.
The night before, I had heard a strange noise and asked my husband to verify my suspicions. I called him to the bedroom window to peer into the quickly fading light and watch my neighbor walking up and down his driveway.
He was getting a jump start on clearing his driveway by using a leaf blower to remove the snow as soon as it fell. A leaf blower wouldn’t leave the evidence of cheating hat a snow blower does.
I lay awake most of the night listening for any additional sounds of someone getting a head start on their driveway until I finally fell asleep to the sounds of the city snow plow. I actually dreamed about shoveling snow, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to wake up to the sound of scrape, scrape sound of metal on asphalt.
While I would have preferred to wrap myself tighter in my blankets and stay in bed, I am just too competitive.
I jumped out of bed and pulled on tights, leggings, wool socks, two shirts, a coat, gloves and a hat. I was prepared to tackle the driveway in five degree weather.
Rodney, the German Shepherd, had other ideas. He was prepared to go for his normal, morning walk. Since the kids didn’t have to go to school and my husband didn’t have to leave for work until much later in the day, I didn’t want Rodney whining and barking, And so, I took him for a short spin around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, that drastically set me back on my driveway clearing schedule.
By the time we returned, my neighbor’s driveway was already cleared.
I didn’t see him gloat, but neither did I see any cars drive by.
If I hurried to clear our driveway, no one would know what had transpired. Neither would they know that I already have my eye on this weekend’s forecast for more snow. I’ve always been a really early riser on weekends.
Trina Bartlett lives with her husband, Giles Snyder, their teenage son and daughter, two cats and one enormous German Shepherd. When she’s not being a mom, volunteering, writing, biking or walking the giant German Shepherd, Trina works full time as a director at a nonprofit, social service organization.