Snowblowing

Noel Wessel takes her turn snowblowing the driveway with the gift she received more than seven years ago. Until Monday, the snowblower sat in the attic collecting dust.

A neighbor, carefully maneuvering his four-wheel drive truck through the “snowpocalypse” Wednesday afternoon along Lockmoor Circle, actually stopped and rolled down his window.

“Wow! You finally got to use it,” he said, pointing at Wife’s electric snowblower.

“Yeah, look at my driveway!” I shouted back, pointing out the smooth concrete that was now surrounded by about three feet of freshly blown snow.

“Awesome!” he said, giving me the thumbs up before trudging onward.

Indeed.

The snowblower that had sat collecting dust in our attic was finally put to use during last week’s snow storms, clearing our snow-covered driveway six times. I figure we got nearly a foot of the white stuff, but our driveway stayed cleared, and we were both able to get to work every day on time.

The streets in Sage Meadows were quite a challenge – a snowzilla – like all other side streets in Jonesboro, but being unable to get vehicles out of driveways is what caused most folks in Northeast Arkansas to miss work.

Not us.

While it doesn’t look like much, that blue plastic snowblower is a beast at clearing snow. Wife and I were actually shocked at how well it worked.

So was another one of our other neighbors, who called and asked what that “thing” was we were using to clear our driveway and if he could borrow it.

While he and others had already driven over the snow in his driveway numerous times, he, too, was impressed with our little blue snowblower.

“Man, it worked really well,” he said. “I was surprised.”

You may recall why I bought the snowblower more than seven years ago after Wife gave me an ultimatum: Either get her a snowblower or she was going to skedaddle back to Florida.

She had labored much of a long afternoon boiling dozens of pots of water and pouring them on our driveway to help clear about a foot of snow. With the help of a snow shovel I’d won at a company Christmas party, she was able to ensure we could get our vehicles out of the driveway and us to work the next morning.

But she wasn’t going to do that again. She wanted a snowblower.

A couple weeks later I surprised her with it. It sat in the garage for a couple years before finding its longtime home in our attic. We never even plugged it in.

When the news that “snowmageddon” was headed our way, I brought it down from the attic Sunday and hooked up the extension cord. It whirred with great intensity after I pushed the button and pulled back on the handle.

I thought to myself, “This thing might actually work.”

The next morning I took the first two inches of snow off the driveway like it was dust on a coffee table. By the time I got home from work, there was another six or seven inches. Far more challenging, but that little snowblower pushed through it like a hot knife through butter. Well, maybe not that easily, but it was still manageable.

Four more times I cleared the driveway of snow before it finally quit falling Thursday morning.

Since I didn’t have a heart attack, let’s just say it was good exercise. Between the two of us, our driveway stayed pretty much snow-free, completely melting off when the sun came out.

One thing I didn’t see much of were youngsters out trying to make a buck by shoveling driveways. When I was a kid, last week would have been a huge money-making week with schools canceled.

Nowadays, children are discouraged from knocking on strangers’ doors, and I don’t think many people in NEA even own a snow shovel, much less a snowblower. I get it, but I also feel bad that their childhoods aren’t as free as mine was.

From Christmas cards and magazine subscriptions to garden and flower seeds, I was always selling something to people who lived within a four- or five-block radius of my home.

In the summer, I’d get a dozen or more neighbors signed up to cut their grass each week and in the winter head out with a shovel on snowy northeast Kansas days to make some fast cash. Back then, $5 to $10 would get your driveway and sidewalks cleared.

Those days are long gone, but you can buy an electric snowblower for around $350 and only have to use it once every seven years or so around these parts.

Priceless.

Chris Wessel, editor of The Sun, can be reached at 935-5525, Ext. 250, or cwessel@jonesborosun.com.