As the temperature drops, the wind picks up, the windows frost and the woodstove nibbles the edges of the woodpile, I recall last winter. A doozy. Snowiest December ever. Which would have been fine - nobody likes a brown Christmas - except the snow kept coming. Before winter eased up, around Mother's Day, snowfall in Concord measured 99.6 inches, the most since 1873.
The skiers loved it. But I'm not a skier. I'm a shoveler.
Didn't help having my husband laid up from surgery. He spent the worst of winter in bed with a book, TV, dog and cellphone, so he could call when he needed a drink or a cracker, because if I'm downstairs at one end of the house and he's upstairs, I might not hear him holler.
John spent the winter recuperating. I spent it digging out.
In January we invested in a snowblower, self-propelled. When I steered, or it steered me, too close to my pretty red Saturn, an edge scraped the paint to metal in three places on the driver's side door. Other than that, the blower worked slick on fluffy snow. It worked OK on heavy snow under six inches. But when the heavy stuff piled high, the snowblower coughed, spit, shuddered and went to bed with a hot water bottle.
Back to shoveling.
When rain followed snow, the temperature dropped and the whole mess froze, it was ice chisel time. Every so often, I swiped the roof with the snow rake and hammered the icicles so they wouldn't skewer the cats. But the ice dam eventually got ahead of me. When leaks sprung in the kitchen and the bathroom, I set out buckets and let her drip.
Couldn't find the mailbox for a week after one storm. Didn't care. It was all I could do to tunnel out the door. All I could do to keep the driveway tamped down enough to get the poor scarred Saturn on the road. All I could do to skate to the woodpile.
One ice storm in particular really got my goat. I called my daughter next door. "I just spent an hour scraping ice off my car," I said. "If you plan to get to work on time, you better get outside with your scraper right now."
"Mummy," she said, "can I borrow your car?"
You may be wondering how things worked out with my prostrate husband and the cellphone. He'd call and I'd bring the newspaper, his pills, chicken noodle soup, an extra blanket and so on. The system worked well, until one day, up to my hips in snow, as I plowed a path to the mulch pile, the phone in my pocket rang. Again. John said, "You better get in here."
"The dog looks upset."
Bob is a wire fox terrier. His hair grows over his eyes. He doesn't have facial expressions. Nevertheless, I slogged back to the house, brushed off the snow, took off my coat, scarf, hat and mittens. Pulled off my boots and snow pants, and trudged upstairs. Through steamed glasses I took in the scene. John propped on pillows. Bob on the floor looking like Bob. I said, "John, I'm going to have to revoke your cellphone privileges. Hand it over."
He said, "I understand."
That was last winter. This one coming - John back 99 percent; wood stacked and dry; new metal roof; snowblower greased and gassed; shovels, chisel, hammer and snow rake at the ready - I say: Bring it on! NH
Rebecca Rule, not be confused with the actress who played "Red Light District Girl" in "Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo," is a wholesome grown lady from Northwood whose humorous writings are often thinly disguised works of revenge on those who have wronged her.
This article appears in the December 2008 issue of New Hampshire Magazine