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Snow, Winter

Digging Victor’s Shovel

Our friend Victor gave us a snow shovel after we closed on our house in Shelburne Falls in early November. We hadn’t had any snow up to then, but he knew our shovel was still in New Mexico with all of Hank’s tools, and chances were we’d get a storm before they were hauled here to Western Mass. Victor was right.

Let me tell you about this shovel. It’s got a flat metal blade of heavy-duty aluminum and a wooden handle. Yeah, it’s old. I’m guessing it’s from the ’60s. The red paint is worn, faded, and gone in spots, I presume from years of work. I saw a similar one in green on Etsy for $60 that the seller said could be used for decorative purposes. (Don’t get any ideas, Victor.)

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The driveway cleared and sanded

I used the shovel for the first storm in early December when Hank and our son, Zack, were driving a 26-foot Penske truck loaded with tools cross-country. The snow depth was six inches or less and dry when I showed up the next moring. (We’re renting an apartment eight miles away during renovations.)

It took me a couple of hours to clear the long, steep driveway, the huge deck, and the space in front of the garage down below where I park my car. The tricky part on the driveway is that it is bordered on two sides by steep banks, so I have to lift that snow high in the air. Near the garage I have to contend with the snow the town’s high department plow pushes there.

I looked at it as good exercise — lifting that metal shovel filled with snow. I had no trouble making my 10,000 steps. For those who are interested, I didn’t have any sore muscles including, thankfully, my back.

Then there were two more storms. By then we had our plastic shovel from New Mexico, which seems awfully flimsy compared to Victor’s shovel. The plastic shovel may have a nice scoop, but I like the heft of the metal one. (Victor mentioned his shovel might be a bit much if the snow is wet.)

This past Thursday we got more snow. So did the rest of New England, with bad flooding near the ocean. Then the temps dropped, dropped, and dropped. The wind whipped around the snow.

Some of you may be wondering why I shovel and not my spouse, Hank. Over the years, we have developed a nice division of labor. He handles the carpentry inside and outside the house, plus other chores. I handle the gardening and snow shoveling, plus other chores. He did have to do a bit of shoveling Thursday night, so he could get his car out of the driveway, but it’s not his thing.

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Dressed for the job

I arrived Friday morning in proper attire for the arctic weather we’re having: long johns, layers of clothing, hat, winter coat, scarf, and a facemask. Given the severe weather, my mission was to clear the driveway only. I did it in sections, coming inside to warm my fingers and toes at the woodstove. Of course, the banks are now higher, but I managed to lift the snow with Victor’s shovel and give it a good heave. The toughest part was where the driveway meets the road, and the plow pushed in snow. You can’t throw snow in the road. That’s a no-no. So I was finding places to throw that damn snow on the high bank along the roadside.

(Is there a snowblower in our future? Yes, I believe so, but we would still need a good shovel for the places it can’t go.)

I showed up yesterday, but the wind was too brutal to do more than clear a path to the mailbox. I return today to finish the job. It’s not much warmer. As I write this, it is -10. It’s supposed to warm up to 13, but, hooray, no wind.

And I can count on that red, metal shovel to get the job done. Thanks, Victor.

BOOK UPDATE: As I mentioned before, my first mystery, Chasing the Case, set in the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts, is set for publication in either May or June by Crooked Cat Books. I finished the second round of edits with my editor Miriam Drori the other day. Now I am learning more about social media … and my fellow authors, lovingly called Cats. In a few days, look for the next in my 6Ws series — author Isabella May.

ABOUT THE PHOTO ABOVE: Yup, that’s Victor’s Shovel.

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