Started snowing late at night. This morning the big ‘noreaster’ had dumped about eighteen inches of snow outside. Dry, powder snow it layered the porch and the yard and certainly the driveway in overwhelming cover. I was up early, watching it fall and somewhere around 4:00AM I noticed that someone from Esposito and Sons was driving down the driveway, plowing the snow as requested. But it occurred to me that the snow wasn’t anywhere near done yet. And this would prove important later on.
My driveway is a steep ride up to Route 208, a busy road that no one is going to walk along or feel particularly safe biking on. But out my back is the rail trail which extends on marvelously for dozens of miles in either direction. Nestled down here away from the busy road, this acts as an egress, an escape valve, an exhalation for our home where I can exercise, any time I choose. But with all this snow, biking is out. And that is why I have for the second year in a row, rented a pair of cross-country skis, boots and poles. And, there is a problem. I can’t get the bindings to work right.
Regardless, I’m eager to go down and try. The snow has stopped. The sky is dramatically blue and I suit up my boots, pick up a shovel and join my wife outside to dig out a passage for our car, out to where the driveway’s already been plowed. It takes two digs at each new area of virgin snow to reach the driveway and I go at it with the joy of reconnecting with something very familiar from one’s youth. And, my wife, who never shoveled driveways in rural Shandong has many things to say: "Don’t toss ANY snow on to that area! I’m going to be using that snow." "Can’t you do more attractive shoveling?" I pause, and mastering my frustration, do my best to consider precisely where she would like the snow tossed, if not off to the side of the driveway.
I’ve got the area clear for the car and a pathway over to the firewood and decide its time to give the skis a shot. Stomping down the back yard, I make gradual progress all the way down to the trail. Someone, has already gone by on cross country skis. I clear out an area and fiddle my toes in to try to get the bindings to click. I try pressing the button with my pole and knocking off the snow from the binding and the ring in my boots. But it’s all for naught. Crestfallen, I retreat back up and vow I will go to Rock and Snow, where I rented them and either learn how to use these or get another pair.
Back up a the driveway, my wife has begun to build a snow sculpture. I can see now why she wanted all this snow to remain pristine. She explains that it will be a Great Wall that snakes around the front of the house, complete with towers. I suggest that she add the crenellated ridging that characterizes the structure she readily agrees. Not long after she has some faux candles inside the guard towers and it looks remarkable.