Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Shovelling in the Dark

My neighours are retired, healthy and active. That's great. They shovel their driveways. That's not so great. I got a snowblower last year but am embarassed to use it. So why did I get it? To save time. I need to get to places on time. Overnight snow can hinder those plans. Hence the machine.

Last winter, I used the snow blower three times. I only really needed it twice. Don't embarass me by asking the cost per use. I didn't heed the end-of-season warning to use up all the fuel in the tank. The fuel got stale and the machine didn't start. Naturally, I didn't bother to check if it worked at the beginning of winter. Why prepare?

It's quite embarassing to have a broken snowblower. Neighbours snicker as you use a shovel just like them. They smirk as you take your machine for repairs. They watch from their living rooms as you bring it back. At least that's how it feels. (Blogging is another form of exposing yourself to scrutiny.)

By the time I got home yesterday, several centimeters of snow covered our driveway and there was some drifting. Enough to use the snow blower without embarassment. Even so, I waited for the after-dinner dark. No neighbours were outside. Perfect.

I primed the engine, opened the choke (or closed it?), turned the ignition key and pressed the button for the electric starter. Presto. The snow blower started, spewing smelly, grey fumes. I plowed a quarter of the driveway when the engine stalled. Out of fuel? Yep. If anyone was chuckling, I couldn't hear them through my hat. I added more fuel, which I had the foresight to buy two weeks earlier. I used the manual starter for the first time and continued clearing the snow.

The wind chill made the temperature feel like -25C. When I finished, my fingers were tingling and my nose dripping. I now realized why my neighbours were inside enjoying free entertainment and stirring their steaming apple cider with a stick of cinnamon.

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