Hazlett

Fluffy white snow made Christmas 2017 a magical sight, but two weeks later, many folks are already pining for summer.

Everyone, that is, except my neighbor “Jack.” He loves snow and dreams of moving to Erie, Pa. You see, Jack is the proud owner of a new, super deluxe snow blower.

It must be some kind of primal instinct reaching back to prehistoric days, when humans dug paths from their caves to conquer the forces of nature. Certain people feel a need to stand and fight the elements while others (like me) prefer to watch from the comfort of the living room window.

But in today’s modern world, conquering nature requires more than an animal pelt and flint — it takes a 15-horsepower, four-cycle, auger-propelled snow thrower with a 30-inch clear path and two reverse speeds.

Personally, I don’t understand this need to throw, blow, shovel and mow snow. But Jack isn’t the only snow thrower fanatic on the street. Nearby neighbor Kelly won’t rest on winter days until she can see concrete, but she doesn’t seem to share Jack’s competitive drive of “who has the biggest and best.”

Last week at 4 a.m., when the sun was not due for three hours and temperatures were below zero, strange sounds arose from the street. I didn’t need to look; I knew the source.

Earlier, Jack and other neighbors had been drooling over the shiny $2,000 machine at the mere gathering of snow clouds.

“This baby can throw snow 40 feet and move up to 2,300 pounds per minute,” he said. The others looked on in awe. Dare I say it… did they have snow blower envy?

The gasoline-powered, snow-eating beast is nicer than my car. With headlights and heated hand grips, I suspect somewhere there’s a cup holder and posh leather accents.

But who am I to judge a neighbor’s interests (especially since he might clear our sidewalk). Attempting to participate in the conversation, I asked, “Is this a single or double-stage blower?”

Jack snorted. “Single stage blowers are for wimps!” Kelly, whose snow blower is single stage, took offense.

“I could handle a two-stage machine if necessary,” she said, “and, after I plow the driveway, I cook dinner and do three loads of laundry!”

The deluxe machine looked intimidating. I was afraid to touch it for fear it might start and tear up the asphalt or suck in nearby garbage cans.

The man who lives across the street was also impressed with the ferociousness of the machine, and was glad for it. As he pointed out, “Why would any of us need our own snow thrower when Jack, the Snow Commander, is around?” We laid odds “the commander” would have our driveways cleared while the Department of Transportation was still reading weather reports.

Snow was still falling last weekend when Jack hit the electric start button and launched the machine. A plume of snow shot into the early morning darkness as he plowed his way through the blanket of white.

In less time than it takes to say, “self-propelled drive system,” the snow was cleared. Adrenaline pumped through Jack’s veins as he headed to the sidewalk next door, delirious with power.

Once more the arch of snow came flowing from the discharge chute, right off the neighbor’s driveway … and back onto Jack’s. The area he had cleared just moments before was again covered with white powder. Maybe this chore requires a little finesse and a skillful touch?

But competitive snow removal requires firm resolve, and before I knew it, the Snow Commander was back at it.

Now everyone is happy. The sidewalks are clear, and Jack is in his garage feeding the beast’s tank with fuel. The latest weather forecast? More snow.

Contact Susan Hazlett at susanrhazlett@yahoo.com or write to her in care of The Pantagraph, 301 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL 61702-2907.

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