Dearest Rachel –
There are so many reasons why I wish you were still here. I’ve gone on and on about a number of them throughout the course of this last year; I don’t need to bore you with the details right now, since I’ve been doing that all this time. One of those reasons that I don’t dwell on very often (probably because there aren’t that many situations that have called for it throughout this most unpleasant year) is the fact that sometimes, life insists on playing practical jokes on us mortals, and I dare say you would’ve gotten a kick out of this one.
You’ll recall my complaining yesterday about the snowfall on your feast day, just as I’m trying to get out to church on time. Well, this is January in Chicago; snow is what the weather does. More to the point, we got more today. In fact, I found out about it, not by looking outside, as you might expect, but from an email I received from Scott. He’d seen my letter to you, and asked if I needed any help figuring out what was wrong with the snow thrower. I told him that there was no rush, that I needed to get gas for it in any event, and when where they forecasting snow for us again, anyway?
His reply was short, and to the point: “Snow￼ today, and maybe Thursday.” Oh, okay.
Wait, did you say today?
Sure enough, when I looked out the window, the car was covered in white, and there was a couple more inches on the ground. I decided I’d better accept his offer, but (as he’s orders of magnitude more of an early bird than I, and was most likely already at church, where he works) asked him to meet me at the house on his way home, some time after three this afternoon.
In the meantime, I did a little bit of shoveling, so that I wouldn’t be walking through inches of snow on my way to the car. Nothing more than that for now. I drove off, but was probably three quarters of the way to the folks’ place when it occurred to me that I left the garage door up. Better call Daniel, and have him hit the button to bring it down.
As I’m filling him in on what I need him to do, I mentioned that I’ll be leaving the office a little early to pick up gas for the car and the snow thrower… wait, gas for the snow thrower?
It was at that moment that I realized… I screwed up.
I had forgotten to bring the jerry can for gas for the the snow thrower. Never mind the garage door, Daniel, I’ll take care of it when I get back there to pick the jerry can up.
Which I proceeded to do; fortunately, I hadn’t called the folks to let them know that I’d be there yet, so when I turned around, they weren’t left wondering ‘why hasn’t he shown up yet?’ It was still embarrassing to delay for such a silly reason, but these things happen.
The rest of the ‘work’ day was uneventful, but since Scott would be over at a certain time, it was also rather short. Particularly because I figured I would stop at Costco to get gas for the car – and the jerry can, yes – and maybe go inside for a few other things, both necessities, and otherwise. It’s probably my fault for never being a list person; I always wind up picking up some impulse item there.
But that’s neither here nor there. At least I got home with plenty of time to spare, so I could fill the tank before Scott got there – probably even before he left his office, in fact – and test it out.
And wouldn’t you know it, but it started up straight away. No need for Scott to come over after all; I promptly texted him to let him know, as well as my thanks for at least offering to help me out. So, now that it was working – and since it was clear that all it needed was gas – I figured I needed to just go around the driveway and clear it out.
Only, I still haven’t figured this thing out yet. As big and powerful as it looks to be, it seemed to choke on barely a couple of inches of snow, especially when I got to the apron, where the driveway empties onto the road. It took me a while before I realize just how literal the situation was – and that I needed to take it off of the ‘choke’ setting in order for it to function at full power.
Once I did that, the snow just erupted from the auger column, in a great plume arching some ten feet up and out. It would’ve been a magnificent sight – if I could’ve seen it. As it was, I misjudged the wind, and wound up with most of the snow blowing right back at me. I was literally covered from head to foot in snow. My brown suede jacket was completely white with the stuff, and I could taste the salt in my mouth from it blowing into my face.
And it wasn’t the only time, either. Several times, as I reversed direction, trying to guide the snow thrower from one end of the driveway to another, the wind wound shift, and I would once again find myself coated with another layer of snow. I’m sure that, if you had been outside working with me (and if you were still here, you would’ve been), you would have all but collapsed into one of the piles of powder from laughing at me. Dusted with white from head to foot, I probably looked a lot like a snowman – or maybe like one of the Three Stooges after having a barrel of flour dumped over them.
It’s funnier to think about, now that I’ve gotten inside, shed those wet clothes, and taken a long hot shower (which I also know you would have joined me in, to further warm ourselves up – another reason to miss you). But by the third time, my face absolutely hurt from the impact of the cold, wet powder that I’d been smacked with yet again. As with any adventure, it wasn’t remotely funny while it was happening. Now that I’ve recovered, I’m wishing I had taken a photo of myself in my ridiculous frosted glory, but at the time, I was just recoiling from it all, as if I’d run into a frozen cactus, for all the sensation I was enduring.
I’m sure if you had been there, and gotten a good laugh from it, I would’ve been able to keep my perspective even in the moment. Of course, I make no guarantees – I might just as easily have trained the auger column on you if you’d laughed too hard. Forget those weak sauce snowball fights – fighting using a snow thrower is almost too cruel.
But I guess we’ll never know. Still, I think you’d have gotten a kick out of it. And it looks like I’m still learning how to use the silly thing. Which is good, because I guess I’m gonna have to deal with it again on Thursday.
So wish me luck, honey. I’m gonna need it.