In Minnesota, we joke that there are only two seasons: Winter, and Road Construction. We DO occasionally say “You betcha,” although not as often, and not as dramatically as in the movies. We eat tator tot hot dish, and in my city the average snow fall is just under 52 inches per year.
Walking outside the morning after a fresh snowfall, you can hear snow blowers humming away all over my neighborhood. But you’ll never hear the roar of a snow blower engine coming out of my garage, because I don’t own one.
I clear my driveway the old fashioned way. With a shovel.
Owning a snow blower in Minnesota is as common as a deer head hanging from the living room wall. Both of them are symbols of mid-western living that are almost a rite of passage into adulthood.
Author’s note: Just for the record, I don’t have a deer head either.
When I first got married, I would declare each spring that we had just completed the last winter without a snow blower. But with the beginning of the next winter I would look at the $600 – $800 price tag of a quality snow blower and question whether it would be a worth-while purchase.
I would think about the time I opened my garage door after a 3 inch snowfall to see my neighbor just firing up his snow blower. Wondering if having a snow blower would save me time, I decided to race him. The steel blade of my shovel sparked across the concrete, and I launched snow into my yard at a dizzying pace.
We completed at exactly the same time.
I would remember when we got a heavy, wet, 7 inches of snow. I was shoveling away, when I realized my neighbor’s blower was starting and stopping every few minutes. The sticky snow kept clogging up the chute, causing him to stop and clear out the machine, start it back up and then continue. He was still working on his driveway when I hung up my shovel and went inside.
I would recall the 20+ inches of snow dumped on us in 2005 during the largest March snowfall ever recorded in Rochester, MN. With a large snowfall anticipated, I had shoveled every couple of hours as to not have two feet of snow to shovel all at once. Our neighbors were out of town, and someone had come to clear the driveway for them. They put forth a valiant effort, but eventually they determined the snow was too tall of an order for the snow blower, and pulled out the shovels.
Finally, I thought about the bonus workout I would get in the 15-20 minutes it takes me to clear an average snowfall from the driveway.
One day, the thrill of racing my neighbors will be gone, and the thumping heartbeat I get from the exercise of shoveling the driveway will give way to an aching back the next morning. When that day arrives, maybe my viewpoint on purchasing a snow blower will change.
Until then, when the snow flies, I’ll be grabbing my trusty shovel.