It is winter outside, though that season is officially still three calendar days away.
Each spring, I write about gardens. Each summer, I write about cats. Autumn is the season to talk of deer hunting.
And in winter ... Good gracious. A computer search says that I have written about my love affair with snowblowers in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
As for 2007 and 2010, perhaps those winters were mild ... No, wait.
Another “find it” search shows that, in those years, I wrote about “snow blowers,” two words.
And why not?
A Google search finds Lowe’s advertising “snow blowers,” while Sears’ web site yields a ping for “snowblowers.” The Associated Press Stylebook is silent on the split. My computer’s Apple Dictionary lists “snowblower,” then adds “snow thrower” as “another term for ‘snowblower’.”
Whether “snowblower” is one word or two, I love the machines and their ability to clear driveways without mangling my arthritic back.
I like walking behind the growling, chomping snowblower — because up until 20 years ago, I walked along the sidewalk or driveway where snow had fallen, throwing it myself with a shovel.
I hated that.
I especially hated that during my childhood. We had a brick sidewalk. Concrete sidewalks have dividers every three feet or so. Brick sidewalks have shovel-edge catchers every brick or so.
Those ordinarily unnoticed upturned edges of bricks often shoved my forward-moving stomach brutally against the handle. We could not plow the snow, or move it via smooth sweeping arcs of the shovels. We had to grub and shove, shove and grub. Back then, we did not have today’s cold weather gear, either.
So I hated snow shoveling.
I love snowblowing, or snow throwing, whatever you want to call it.
That love affair can grow strained throughout a brutal winter. On average, our nook northwest of Brookville gets 50-60 inches of snow each winter, according to the National Weather Service. In severe winters, that total can jump up past 80 inches. I could get fed up.
There is an antidote. It is called “Florida.”
“Florida” shortens winters.
Tsk. I am not about to pre-publicize an absence from home. Note to malefactors: Heavily armed friends and family are feeding the animals, clearing the driveway, just itching to test weaponry on miscreants.
Is that true?
Anyway, a sojourn in Florida keeps me from getting tired of snowblowers: I actually enjoy running them except when the snowfall is wet and slushy. For that, the plow-equipped four-wheeler suffices.
Why not just plow all winter long?
In a bad winter, one can run out of places to pile snow. The longer throw of the snowblower postpones that problem until a thaw makes it go away.
Besides, if I use my head instead of my muscles, the walking that accompanies using a snowblower is actually easier on my surgically sensitized innards than is the thump-bump-hop-jump associated with the ATV.
By “using my head,” I mean having the patience to use the snowblower’s slow-crawling reverse gears and slower but easier-moving lower forward gears rather than trying to “horse” the machine around.
It takes time, sure.
Being five years retired, I no longer measure time in hours. My morning alarm is daylight brightening the bedroom. I measure the day by “breakfast,” “lunch,” “snack,” “supper” and “bedtime,” not by a clock. Yes, the animals must be fed. But to them, the difference between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. is negligible.
So I have the extra time to use the snowblower sensibly, in rhythm with my age and incrementally creeping decrepitude.
There are blizzards, true.
There also are younger family members and caring neighbors living nearby, equipped with plow-fronted trucks, side-by-side UTVs or even a skid steer.
For gentle snowfalls of a few fluffy inches, they leave me to my odd behavior, waving if they drive past while I toddle along behind the snowblower. For blizzards, a phone will ring: “Don’t you dare. I’ll be over. You are old. Sit.”
If there are brutal, sub-zero temperatures, I use “intervals.”
No law says that an entire 300-foot driveway must be cleared at one session. I can work awhile, retreat inside for a warm cup of broth, then resume — or even sandwich a nap between the trips outside.
So, call it “snow blower,” “snowblower,” or even the “-thrower” synonyms.
Since winter has returned, I again write about walking behind my growly, gnarly “boys and our toys” friend while it, and not I, sends the snow soaring away.
Afterward, bring on the warm broth.
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Denny Bonavita is a former editor at newspapers in DuBois and Warren. He lives near Brookville. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org