By John Matonich
As I sit here in my shop looking out the window, I have to wonder just when we are going to see some winter. I mean, it is March and it has been so summerlike for the last several months, I am thinking it is time to wear shorts while working in the shop. When will we see some of the weather we usually see here in this part of God’s Country? Of course, I am kidding and if anyone locally saw this I would be pelted with snowballs.
Almost 200 inches of snow has fallen so far this season, including the two feet – yes, two feet – we just got a few days ago. That sure made travel interesting. Actually, it made snow removal even more so. I knew we were going to get pounded so I went out to try to get ahead of the impending storm. Jumped in our little tractor and headed up the drive. Unfortunately, it is a little uphill from our house to the main road and I learned long ago that it made sense to head up to the main road, turn around and blow snow downhill. With the help of gravity, it usually isn’t an issue getting things cleaned up.
My bride loves our little 26 horsepower tractor and has named him Simon. She does a lot of the snow blowing here, but I wanted to give her a chance to relax a little and enjoy the day. Simon and I headed up the drive and just before I got to the main road I could see the county plows had already been by and Simon and I were going to have to get through some extra white stuff before we could turn around and head back with the blower on. Unfortunately, we had some warmer temps the day before and I didn’t realize it was mostly ice under the newly fallen snow. Simon did all he could to get us to the main road, but the ice wasn’t going to let us get there.
I thought I could help the situation by backing down the hill and running my old 1992 Jeep Wrangler up and down to “pank” down a path. You may have not heard that word before, but it is pretty common up here to use and to hear. Pank means to pack or tamp a loose type of material into a more compact mass. Thinking my Jeep would do the trick, I jumped in it and backed out of the garage. Unfortunately, even the Jeep and its 4-wheel drive wasn’t up to the task. I made it about as far as I did with Simon before I couldn’t move any further. To make matters worse, backing down the hill wasn’t an option either.
So there it sat.
I looked like I had my hands full. That’s the bad news. The good news was that true to this part of the country, people don’t mind helping people and the next thing I knew a friend from the other side of the lake was plowing the entrance to my drive and offered to help. By the time it was over, we had every vehicle I own stuck somewhere on the drive trying to get a clear path to the main road. Fortunately, another Good Samaritan Yooper came by and after a few hours of head scratching and pulling with tow straps he helped us all get unstuck.
The snow was blinding by this time due to the snowfall and 25 mph winds, but Simon and I weren’t raising the white flag. I fired him up about every hour and a half and we tackled the drive and the snowfall and drifts until it got too dark to see much and I had to call it a night. When I got up in the morning I could see that Simon and I had stayed just far enough ahead of the storm that he and I could clean up the drive one more time and call it storm over. As I headed to the shop later that morning I saw a number of front end loaders heading down the road to tackle the 6- to 8-foot driveway drifts many were faced with.
In the end, I was glad I worked hard to stay ahead of the game and even more glad I lived in an area where people aren’t afraid to help others when they see the need and feel they can help. I guess I could have headed to a warmer climate earlier in the year, like many do, and return when the white stuff said “Adios,” but I love it here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, even when Mother Nature reminds us who is boss.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.