Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey
As I look out the window, I see that the hillside a quarter-mile away has once again gone opaque.
The Laurel Highlands normally gets a lot of snow, anywhere from 60 to 120 inches per winter season. But this year has been something special. After a fairly normal fall (first snow fell from the sky around mid-October), late January and February have become a monster. We've had three major snowstorms which have left a total of 58 inches in my front yard, and if the forecast holds, we'll pick up another 12 inches over the next two days. The long-range trends into mid-to-late March don't look pretty. In fact, as the ice melts on the Great Lakes, we'll probably see quite a bit more before it finally ends.
(For a quick look, go to http://galerie-de-couey.blogspot.com/)
I like snow (or at least I used to), but even I have to admit to the massive inconveniences we face this year. The plows have been very efficient, but there's no place left to put what they plow. Dump truck drivers have enjoyed a bit of a bonanza as they have been pressed into service hauling snow out of the boroughs and into the countryside, and into the miriad of rivers in this area.
The problem now is that we are nervous about the approaching spring. Sometimes, this area will have a sudden thaw, accompanied by heavy rains. With the uncounted tons of snow melting and cascading down the sides of the gorges into the area's rivers we could have some serious flooding problems in April.
My biggest beef is a personal one. And that's about shoveling. We have a short sidewalk and a tiny driveway, so I don't see the need to invest $700 in a snow blower (or thrower). My wife and I try to keep up with the snowfall, but with my recent heart problems and ongoing back problems (and that neither one of us is getting any younger), it's gotten harder. Especially since you now have to lift that shovelful of snow above your head in order to move it off the walk and driveway.
The most exasperating thing about this whole thing is our recent snit with the Somerset Borough snow plows. Before I launch into this rant, let me say that I have a great deal of respect and admiration for the folks who work so hard and so long to keep our streets clear so we can get out to work, the grocery store, and the pharmacy. They're working all day, all night, sometimes 7 days a week providing this vital service to residents. I've been caught out in some of these storms and I know how unnerving it is to drive down a road in which the blinding falling and blowing snow has completely hidden the shoulder. Culverts are deep and it only takes one wheel off the side before the whole vehicle takes a tumble. So as you read on, know that I really do love you folks!
We go out and spend a hard hour or two clearing our walks and driveway, then stagger back to the house. Within an hour, the plow will come rocketing up the alley, leaving a 4-5-foot tall berm of chunked-up snow and ice across the entrance to that same driveway. At first we would go back out and again lift those heavy chunks over our heads into the back yard. Now, we just push the stuff back into the alleyway. It's just too heavy and difficult for us to keep moving those bergs.
So now, the whole thing has become sort of like an argument between married people. It's not about who's right. It's about who has the last word.
Or in this case, the last shovelful.
Winter, like all seasons, will eventually end. The sun will shine, the breezes will blow soft and warm, and nature will decorate our world with deep green and bright colors. It's only a matter of getting through the tough months.
In the meantime, I will endeavor to persevere.