Columnists

Snow Buddies Business

Ah, alas, the first big snowfall of the year.

I love standing on my deck in the tranquil dawning of a new snowstorm, watching the horizontal white blur layer the yard in its downy nuzzle. The quietude of the swirling milky crystals is dis-turbed solely by the howling wind, whose turbulence kicks snow into big piles, like a child kicks blankets to the end of the bed, before rushing to wipe the fog from the frosted window to reveal a dangerously cold scene.

It is at this point, somewhere between my first a second sip of warm tea, right before the cinna-mon stick discharges its peppery vanilla essence into my brew, that I begin to contemplate the world’s peaceful slumber, until at last, the spell is broken by my favorite sound … my neighbors firing up their Kubota™ tractors.

I’ve got the best neighbors. Real snow buddies.

That’s because they are handy. Because they are handy, they have the best equipment. And because they have the best equipment, and are handy, I haven’t had to clean snow from my own driveway in thirty-seven years.

In fact, if statistics are kept for the most utility tractors per capita, I’m sure my neighborhood ri-vals Canada. There are eight homes in my neighborhood, and we claim ownership of five utility tractors.

But that’s not to say they aren’t all needed. Nearly all of us in this end of town have what I’d call unconventional driveways, and we haven’t had any municipal snow removal services on the main drag here, since my neighbor Jack lost his seat on the Town Board.

My neighbor Lewis has the toughest go. He owns a hobby farm at the end of the street. Only his mailbox lies within the town limits; the rest of the farm lies just outside. Consequently, the town only plows up to Lewis’ mailbox, even though they tax his entire farm for sewer services. Lewis’ Bx Series tractor plows nearly two hundred yards of snow to release him from his drifted drive-way. As for the sewage, luckily its downhill to Lewis’ mailbox.

Dickie has the next longest run. His house sits way back off the street, and his 100-yard drive-way runs perpendicular to Lewis. My driveway is next longest. My garage sits behind my house, and about forty-five yards to the throughway. However, mine is a cutout driveway. The snow of-ten drifts from bank to bank, and can reach thigh-high in even the most modest of storms -– high enough to bury a neighbor kid or two, something I’ve often contemplated trying.

Of those with tractors, Dave has the shortest driveway. Dave bought a brand new L Series trac-tor this year. He is so proud of that tractor. When the winter storm was forecast, he moved his wife’s S-Class Mercedes out of the garage, to make room for the tractor. Char was displeased, of course, until she saw how much snow the tractor moves out of that deep depression at the end of their driveway. Much more than a Mercedes, anyway.

With this many utility tractors in the neighborhood, it’s not unusual to see them all on the move at once. Like Hitler in the Sudetenland, once one driveway is vanquished of snow, each neigh-bor is on the lookout for more land to conquer.

Dave got me, this year, for which I am “e-thermally” grateful.

For my part, I grab my ergonomically shaped snow shovel — formed one winter when I backed over the handle with my car –– and clean all my neighbors’ sidewalks and patios, which the tractors cannot reach.

It’s a small contribution, but a fair little tradeoff. It has worked well–– except for the year I acci-dentally scooped up my neighbor Shawna’s favorite ceramic garden gnome, and unknowingly threw it under their truck tire.

She never said anything, but it was easy to catch her drift.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.