Opinion | Biff America: Can you dig it?
There was a time when I was a very fast runner. You would never know now, but I once was captain of my high school football and track teams. Those days are well in the rear view mirror; now it is not uncommon for me to get passed by glaciers.
Though the years and lifestyle have slowed me down, I was still able to catch that guy driving the snow plow.
Admittedly, the driver probably saw me in his rear view mirror and stopped. But still I caught up to him while running in the snow and carrying a muffin as big as a baby’s head.
“Snow-Pocalypse,” “Bomb Cyclone” and “Breck’s Big Dump” are just a few names given to this unprecedented series of snow storms. Over 6 feet of snow in as many days closed highways, caused canceled flights and clogged the roads.
I’ve been in this county for many winters (I remember some of them) and I don’t recall a storm quite like this. Now certainly the snow is a friend to skiers but it is also the enemy of those of us who must shovel. But that common enemy did promote a sense of camaraderie around town. Pictures and posts on social media featured drifts, ice dams and hip-deep decks.
It is said shoveling snow is good exercise. In coffee shops, bars and about town, men and gals spoke of sore arms and backs as they bragged of the tonnage of frozen water they have cleared. I spoke to the manager of our local gym and suggested that since they have spin bikes, stair climbers and rowing machines, perhaps they might consider installing a shoveling simulator so we can all stay “tuned-up” between big dumps.
The hunter-gatherer in me does get stimulated by the challenge of a snowy walkway. After every recent snowfall, I drink my coffee, gird my loins for battle, kiss my mate and head out to shovel. I look over as my neighbors do the same and feel a sense of commonality as every passing snow plow is giving a thumbs up.
I will admit my shoveling obsession is helped by the reality that options for safe backcountry skiing are limited. Truth is, the snowpack out of bounds is as volatile as Sarah Sanders at a press conference. There have been reports of avalanches being triggered by flatulence.
I can’t speak for those who work for a living. For a guy whose hands are as callused as a debutant’s, shoveling snow does gives me a sense of manliness. In other words, I shovel because I’m unskilled at anything else.
I had just returned from a day of skiing and could barely get into our driveway to return my truck to the garage. Though I shoveled the walkway in the morning before leaving home, our driveway had some 3-foot drifts.
My mate and I were on different ski missions that day and she was already home. I entered the house to the smell of freshly baked muffins.
After hanging up my ski clothing and climbing skins and changing into street clothes, I looked out to see the guy plowing our driveway. That had to be the third day in a row he was there. I felt a huge debt of gratitude coupled with a large dose of sympathy. I knew he had to be at wits end trying to meet all his plowing obligations.
I grabbed a warm muffin off the cooling rack, pulled on my boots and jacket and ran outside. He had finished my drive and was heading down the street. Running in heavy boots through chopped up knee-deep snow, I was a far cry from the track star of 40 years ago. I looked like a middle-aged man running with a muffin while having a stroke.
He stopped, opened his door and looked at me like he was expecting a complaint. I handed him the muffin and said, “You must have had a s****y week. Here’s a muffin fresh out of the oven.”
I walked back home feeling good about myself.
My mate walked downstairs just out of the shower and asked about my day. I told her that anything steep enough to make turns on didn’t look safe enough to ski, so the day was not great. I told her I was going to make some coffee and enjoy one of the muffins she had just baked (and which I had just given to the plow guy).
She bragged that the batch of newly baked goods were particularly healthy — I got worried and asked, “How so?” “Well, instead of white flour, chocolate chips and blueberries, I used hemp flour, pine nuts, zucchini and kale.”
Granted, it was a guilt-free snack, but I’m afraid the plow driver won’t be back……….
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Biff’s new book “Mind, Body, Soul.” is available at local shops and bookstores or Shop.holpublications.com/products/biff-america-mind-body-soul.
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