Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Death by driveway

My wife Jean and I shoveled our drive this morning. I’d never done this as a boy in Oklahoma as it didn’t snow very frequently and when it did snow it didn’t stay long. (Have I ever mentioned how much I liked that aspect of Oklahoma?) But Jean and I moved here, and whatever things were gained, and there were things gained to be sure, this was one of the things what was lost. It shows just a little bit more often and when it does it sticks around just a little bit longer. This change was enough along the axes of frequency and longevity that we needed to get snow shovels.

Yesterday Jean and I spent the bulk of the day in a successful effort to save the greenhouse over at our hobby house. Jean’s dad had used the house next door to us for storage and projects. One of those projects was a greenhouse made of clear plastic sheeting. When we went over yesterday to check it out, there was a foot of snow on it and it had already torn in one spot. We took an hour to get the snow off. We came back after lunch and another 4 inches had built up on it. We got that off. We came back just before supper and got the two inches that had accumulated off. Because of all that there was no time to shovel the drive. Of course that would’ve been useless anyway as it was, and as you have gathered, still snowing.

Fortunately the wise and merciful leadership at the university cancelled classes and closed nonessential services (me and Jean) today too. This enabled us to shovel the drive today. It took us from a little after 8AM to about 11:15 AM. The high temperature during this interval was 9 degrees. Now I know some of you who read this may have the urge to tell me that you have toiled longer at lower temperatures. Keep it to yourself. It will not make me like you; it will not impress me other than to make me think you are a one-upping little toad. Versteh?

Being who I am, I’ve done some calculations. There was about 15 inches on the drive. Less some places, more other. For the sake of a conservative estimate, let’s say it was an even foot. Let us also estimate that this melts into one inch of water. My drive is 90 feet long (Vern Morton told us we would regret such a long drive for just this reason) and 8 feet wide. Water has a density of 62.4 pounds per cubic foot. When you do all the math, this works out to 3744 pounds of water. Since we are friends, let’s call this two tons.

When we came in after this, I look off my toboggan cap, and my hair was soaking wet. I had sweated through my hair at 9 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same moment, I stepped on my daughter’s wet socks on the floor and they stuck to me, frozen. There was something about that moment. I realized I was at a state of being I had never achieved before.

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