Saturday, February 9, 2013

first pull

Thankfully I am physically fit.  In my 53rd year, however, shoveling snow has lost the last threads of any luster it may have momentarily held.

I fall into the category of fairly handy as well.  My neighbor to the right, a couple of years older, meets the benchmark of being expertly skilled with tools and craftsmanship.  Even so, sometimes snags with tasks can occur that can slow us down tremendously.

A few years ago during a winter storm both of us headed to our garages to fire up our snow blowers.  Simultaneously we discovered that our gas was stale, our carburetors were gummed up and changing the spark plugs or adding doses of starting fluid was of no help.  We were quite peeved that we had to hand shovel more than a foot of snow that was lining two driveways, yards and sidewalks.

So each year now I attend to my aging apparatus in the fall for a light tune-up, a test run and a self certified seal of inspection.  Then I cross my fingers of course.

Especially crossed because I know there are many days and weeks that traverse the calendar between mid October and mid February while my machine may sit idle.  Enough time in fact to cause me to break out into an easily recognizable case of throttle anxiety as I await the real test imposed by a big drop in barometric pressure and blizzard conditions.  

Fair lady certainly sensed my fear today as I unsuccessfully tip-toed back to our bedroom to grab a pair of warm socks while interrupting her last few minutes of dreams.  

I hope you don’t plan on making noise outside before 9 o’clock, on a SATURDAY, was her phrasing.  

The new guy diagonally across the street already blew out his whole driveway was my informed response at 7:45 am. 

Yes, and that was totally annoying came the retort.

Anxiety often gains the upper hand though.  Rules or no rules I couldn’t wait until the late hour of 9am to learn my fate.  I suited up for go time.  

My elderly neighbor to the left is a woodsman.  He spends much time traveling in the far North Country and has planted evergreen tree saplings in his yard that have grown to dwarf the surrounding homes and yards.  Even in the dead of winter there is enough wildlife nesting up in his sanctuary that most days our awakenings are timed to a Cardinal or Blue Jay happily plucking a berry, seed or nut and then making a flyover outside of our hallway window.  Some days a squirrel will miss a step from high above and slide down our shingles.  

This morning was different.  Time for change I suppose.  At precisely 8:05 am Eastern Standard Time I poured a half gallon of fresh gasoline into my cold and inactive assistant in the hopes of bringing it to life.  I carefully primed the engine with nine pumps, as a friend of mine who is into Feng shui recently clued me into the goodness of nines.  

I backed off, adjusted the choke to a spot I felt lucky, and moved the red lever to the on position.  I clumsily stood behind the rear bar and yanked the pull cord while my feet wobbled on a patch of ice.  The rope snapped back sooner than I preferred and for a split second I felt doomed...visions of ice picks circled my dizzying head.  Then suddenly and magically my world changed.  

As if the engine was briefly shaken by the same patch of ice, it vibrated and transformed itself from a near stall out sounding tremor to being all revved up and then it spewed out an ironically large, healthy puff of smoke from the exhaust.  The start held.  It was solid.  I was not feeling doomed.  I felt great.

No Cardinals, Blue Jays, transplanted Orioles or falling squirrels would beat me to it now.  The rest of the block was to be awakened by my uncontrollable and glorious reaction as I proclaimed it across the driveway drifts, ‘FIRST PULL BABY…F-I-R-S-T P-U-L-L'.

© 2013 Christopher’s Views


  1. Ah, it all sounds so familiar since I raised my family in Montana, the memories of shoveling snow -- back in those days -- moved before my eyes and I shivered!! While it is gray, damp, and gloomy in Seattle, there is no snow this year and the low temps are only in the the upper 40s!! I can deal with that!! Hope thing warm up soon, Christopher!! Enjoy what's left of your weekend and stay warm!!

  2. hee are funny
    and I bet one heck of a neighbor
    have fun with the snow

  3. You have a wonderful way of writing! I hear you about all the shovelling... I'm exhausted after digging out our short driveway by hand!

  4. My 63 year old husband, photographer & chronic pain sufferer still gamely shovels the snow. We have a snowplow guy for the driveway but my husband thinks he over plows...for the money. So he's now told him not to plow anything under 3". He wanted to buy a snowblower this winter but I asked him to wait until they go on sale which should be soon. Our 70+ yr old neighbor comes over w/ his snowblower & makes trails around the house for our 86 yr old MIL. He's a good soul, eternally restless, always busy. I help shovel occasionally but nothing major. We are grateful this newest storm dropped fluffy champagne snow, deep as it is.

  5. only now, you will be sleeping on the couch for disturbing her peaceful dream....hahaha...first pull...very cool...shoveling def is losing its fun...though i still enjoy the burn of the muscle...until the next morning that is...smiles...

  6. You write very well--fun story to read about your "snow day". Wish you could share some of the snow with Kansas. We usually have several "good" snows over the winter, but none so far and nothing in the forecast. Have a good week. Mickie :)

  7. Great tale, wonderful account, full of fun and humour - at least, that's how I found it. You might not have seen the funny side quite to the same extent. Either way, many thanks for it.

  8. Loved this, Christopher. Of course, you'll definitely be subjected to some pot banging the next time you sleep in, but it will probably still be worth it :)

  9. Ha! Good for you. I can relate to your wife's irritation at the hour but I also know that I was very grateful when a neighbour came by with his machine to do the sidewalk in front of several homes. I'll bet he didn't get it on the first pull though. :-)

  10. In this case, I have to take sides with your fair lady - she is right about all that noise being so annoying, and the snow would have patiently waited there for you for another hour or so :-)
    But then again, there's boys and their toys, I suppose...
    My neighbour simply uses a snow shovel, but we have only a short path from the front door to the road that needs clearing, no drive or long sidewalk.

  11. Not that there was any doubt about it before this, but now it's undeniable: I am not you. I love to shovel, and I shudder when I look at a snowblower and consider the possible upkeep, maintenance, and headaches.

    I'm also the woman under the covers, indignant at the guy out blowing at 7:45 a.m. I chortled as I read that part of this post, for I actually experienced just that two mornings ago.

  12. I am so glad that we just rarely get enough snow for it to be an issue!

  13. As I have arrived here rather late I do so hope that you are still alive and in one piece and have not been ‘silenced’ by either your nearest and dearest or your neighbours.