Sunday, January 3, 2010

ouch (snow, part II)

Oh man.

After I got home from shoveling last night, the skies opened up and dumped a solid foot of heavy, wet snow on this island.

When I woke at 5 a.m., wet snow was still falling, mixed with spatters of rain. I shoveled out the truck, got it started and warmed it up and packed my thermos of coffee. I was at the church by 6 a.m. The plow guy had not arrived yet to clear the parking lot, so I parked my truck across the street and waded through the heavy berm of snow left by the municipal street plow.

The snow was so wet and heavy I had a hell of a time moving it. You would never have guessed by looking that I had cleared all of the sidewalks and paths just over 12 hours earlier. I started working, and before long the plow guy arrived. I used my large push scoop, which is easier on my back than a shovel, but the snow was still heavy and it was work.

Before an hour was out, I was sweating heavily in my turtleneck, hoodie and Columbia rain shell, so I stashed the hoodie back in the truck. With intermittent rain and snow still falling, I wanted the rain shell as opposed to the hooded sweatshirt, which would get wet, cold and heavy in short order.

I have advice for anyone who plans on depending on Columbia gear to keep them dry: don't. The shell was only moderately water-resistant. I was soaked to the skin by 8 a.m. As long as I kept working and was warm, I was OK. If I slowed at all, I started to get chilled. I drank my coffee when I could and kept moving.

I had a helper this morning. Interesting guy, named Ian. I don't know much about him other than he is a young, kind of loosely-wrapped hippie kind of guy with baggy pants, funky crocheted beret/beanie thing that mostly contains his dreadlocks, and he has a female partner and a two-year-old daughter. I met him once at one of the local organic/natural foods places when his daughter was expressing her free spirit by running up and down the aisles at full speed and volume. She was a cute kid and was not doing harm to anything beyond my nerves, so what the hell, right?

I was shoveling yesterday afternoon when he walked by with a shovel over his shoulder.

"Need some help?"

"You mean that?"

"Of course" he said, with a huge grin.

OK, I said - go clean off the front steps of the church.

Incredibly, his grin got wider and he trotted off toward the front of the church. For the record, HERE is the link to the church's website. It has a picture of the church and most of the front steps. They're about 25 or 30 feet wide, with two sets of steps and two large flat areas. In other words, it's a lot of real estate to clear of snow. I figured it would keep him busy for a while.

And it did. I finished up the rest of the paths and walkways, then brought my scoop around to help Ian finish up the front. He'd done an admirable job, and was still cheerfully tossing snow hither and yon. I invited him to return in the morning, and he gladly agreed. I think my promise of cash in the morning may have helped fuel his enthusiasm.

So this morning in the rain and snow, Ian comes loping cheerfully down the sidewalk, shiny shovel over his shoulder. He started immediately on the front steps, then cleaned them up really nice and salted well.

Together we got it done and parted company with a pledge to call him if I needed help again. He's a good guy, and his perpetually cheerful demeanor was really kinda fun to be around.

So, after we parted company, I went and did my other two residential places that I take care of. More heavy, wet snow, and raking of roofs to prevent ice dams and dangerous icicle development. By the end of the day, I could barely stand upright. There was so much heavy, wet snow, and it was sooooo wet and sooooo heavy, there really was no good way to move it that did not involve lots of back muscles.

I brought home Chinese take-out and peeled out of my thoroughly soaked clothes. Even my socks inside my boots were wet. Everything I have hurts. Every muscle aches. My left shoulder is giving me fits. If I move just so, I get a sharp pain. I tweaked the thumb on my left hand as well, and it's stiff now.

It was a very, very long wet, cold, miserable day. The Congregational Church people were delighted with the job we did, and my other two customers were pleased as well. I have to go back tomorrow to clean off the roof of the church and put some calcium pucks up there to melt away any ice dams.

If the weather and the roads are clear, I might go get some conduit for my metal project, and then do some more cool geometry and pattern-making. I have tried to make a technical drawing of the thing I want to make, but it always looks bad. I'll see if I can work up something better to share.

Stay tuned.

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