Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The "Lesser" of Two Evils

On Monday night, on the way to bed, I noticed one of the small miracles of this time of year: The hyper-bright nights caused by snowy ground and light. Granted, on Monday, the light causing the snow to glow was from "light pollution" reflecting off of low-hanging clouds, so everything was kind of a freaky orange color. Even so, it was pretty amazing having all of that light pouring through the windows hours after the sun went down. 

Of course, all that snow on the ground late on Monday meant that I got to go out on Tuesday and clear snow. This time there was definitely too much to sweep away, and since I had gotten gas for the snow blower earlier in the week, I figured this was my chance to become acquainted with this gadget. I helped Christopher pick it up a couple years ago, but I'd never used it (I always opted for the shovel). 

So yesterday morning I filled the tank and spent the next 5 minutes or so working on starting it--manually, with the electric start, and, finally, with a few appropriately placed "coaxing" expletives. Suddenly I found myself standing in the middle of the driveway with a roaring snow blower and no idea what to do with it. For practice, I shoved it back and forth around the driveway. 

Here's what I learned during my first snow blowing session:
1) I found out that it's pretty near impossible to pull it backward through snow (snow simply builds up behind it). 
2) I frequently reminded myself that pulling it backward while the blade was still running was STUPID and dangerous. 
3) I discover why it shouldn't be pushed into the wind (and felt the wrath as the snow blew into my face). 
4) I learned that getting too close to grass (or flower beds) results in nasty dirt and mulch kick-ups.
5) (This one is interesting!) I found that the more snow you're going through, the higher/farther the snow will go. I'd have thought that small amounts would do just as well, but there you go.

And, unfortunately, I found out this morning that the snow blower comes with an unexpected side effect: really sore forearms. Yep. I woke up this morning with an amazing aching that starts around my elbows and goes all the way to my thumbs. For about half an hour I was kind of freaked out by that. Then I remembered what I had done, yesterday, and realized what had caused the achiness.

Which leads me to the titular dilemma:

Is it better to deal with a sore back and shoulders from shovelling? Or to deal with sore forearms and hands from the vibrations of the snow blower?

I mean, it's nice that it's not my back, but I'm not sure if aching forearms are really that much better. I guess I'll get to make that decision in a few days when we get more snow...

Oh. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to the full moon this weekend. I can't wait to see how that looks on the snow. 

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