The words ash and grey appear roughly 50 times in the 287 pages of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road.” The author repeats these words so often in an effort to convey a feeling of inescapable oppression through environmental description, and it is a very effective strategy.
Now, I don’t claim to be on the level of McCarthy, but if one were to change the words to snow and white, one might be able to grasp how I’m presently feeling about my environment. I realize that this isn’t the apocalypse, and that people won’t soon be resorting to cannibalism (don’t quote me on that), but it doesn’t feel too far off the mark.
This could also be a symptom of too much shoveling. Ok, it really is about too much shoveling. I’m sick of shoveling. I am sick of the shovel. I am sick of the word shovel, the mere thought of shoveling, and the thought of any and all future shoveling.
You may ask “Why not buy a snow blower then?”
And I would say “That is an excellent question!”
I do own a snow blower. It is a beast of a machine that I’ve acquired from a relative who has decided to move to a place where he no longer has to blow his own snow. If or when I retire, I plan on taking up this strategy and will bequeath the Toro 500-something-something to some other unwitting soul. I will be laughing as I do this – maliciously.
There is a trick to the Toro 500-something-something, or the Toro 500-something-something is tricky, either way I have yet to figure out its secret, and so it sits, unmoved, in the garage. I made a gallant effort to figure out the machine this past week, but was promptly bested. I realize that I know as much about the workings of a combustible engine as I do about arbitrage pricing theory, which is to say, very little.
I did know that the “sparkplug” was a thing of issue, and so I sought to remedy the situation. I went on a very long, cold, lonely excursion to a litany of automotive parts stores. If you have ever seen a child panic at losing sight of a parent in a grocery store then you will have a pretty good idea as to what I look like when I walk into an automotive parts store.
I can’t even be bothered to look around, because I know it would be futile. I would become simian-like as I picked up small packages of headlight lamps and dashboard fuses, while desperately looking around for some validation that I’d chosen the right thing.
As luck would have it I am blessed with occasional foresight, and so brought the dead sparkplug in a little zip-lock baggie. I had the baggie because the sparkplug was filthy, as I imagine these things are, and did not care to sully my jacket pocket, I thank you very much.
I, after many hours, found the right sparkplug. It was $2. I was shocked when the cashier told me this, and so I asked him if he was sure that was right. It could not be such an inexpensive item after the epic quest as I’d had looking for it!? The cashier was not surprised at my surprise, as he handed me back my baggied sparkplug.
I took said sparkplug home feeling very satisfied with myself at having accomplished the seemingly impossible, and having dared to tread upon previously unseen lands.
Apparently the sparkplug wasn’t the problem.
Oh yes, the Toro 500-something-something started after I replaced the sparkplug. It even revved like…I don’t know…something that revs nicely. I cavalierly jammed the auger lever to full swing and the blower began its spine-saving chug down the driveway. Then the engine began to rev too nicely, too loudly, and too fast. POP! A sound like a jalopy backfire, and the blower was dead ten feet down my driveway.
It is at this point that I decided to blame the snow directly. I cursed the snow, and kicked at the snow, and wagged a very deliberate finger at the snow. The snow did not seem to care. The snow cared so little that it actually began to snow more. I hate the snow, and I think that snow knows.
I went back to shoveling.
Now, it may seem that I’ve made a big deal about nothing, and that I’m just being lazy in my refusal to diligently shovel, and you’re right. But, I have a very long driveway. For eight months out of the year my driveway is manageable, but come winter it begins to look a lot like it could comfortably accommodate the landing of a Boeing 747.
I was under the impression, until recently, that I, at the very least, satisfactorily keep up with the front sidewalk and stairs, if not for the mailman’s sake, then at least to keep up with the neighbors. I was walking home with a friend the other night, and when we arrived at my sidewalk he looked at the sidewalks of the two neighboring houses, and simply said “You bastard.” I quietly promised to change my ways.
I have not changed my ways. And, as the forecast is calling for more snow showers over the next two days, I can only feel some slight sympathy for all those who have to stumble over my icy, glacier-like sidewalk. I have resorted to throwing down some fairly useless rock salt if only in an effort to save face, or avoid a lawsuit.
I am sick of the snow, the shoveling, and the feeling of helplessness every time I see a weather report. There are no neighborhood kids that I can pay $20 to shovel my property. I cannot afford to move to Florida, even if I sell the Toro 500-something-something. I am at a loss.
Whatever, I have to go shovel now.