I think the old expression “when Hell freezes over” might have got it wrong, because sometimes, Hell is being frozen over, as those residing in our neck of God’s Country—aka Connecticut—for the past month can attest. Without the official statistics of this Sisyphean nightmare, I can’t tell you exactly how many snowstorms we’ve had (although I do know there has been more than one per week, sometimes on consecutive days) or how many inches they’ve dumped (I believe we’re one of the areas that have already exceeded their average for the entire season; I’m guessing it’s close to six feet). But I can tell you that the nuclear winter of 2011 has made it impossible to live any kind of real life, which includes blogging, and guess what, another whopper is on the way…
Our driveway is not huge by local standards, but when a foot of snow accumulates overnight (it’s always overnight, so there’s no chance to shovel in shifts to keep pace), it can take Madame BOF and myself almost seven hours to clear it. And since we’re ecologically minded enough to drive VWs instead of Hummers, that precludes leaving the premises until it’s done, forcing me to miss a day of work in each of the past three weeks, on only one of which my company closed; I’m not counting the first time this winter that a blizzard resulted in a rare closing, when I was home with my daughter between Christmas and New Year’s, which means I wasted a vacation day. And so, on top of everything else, we get the thrill of watching ourselves slip ever-further behind at work.
All of that would be bad enough, but then the inevitable ice damning—er, damming—due to our frozen gutters started to turn Maison Bradley into a sieve, with random leaks breaking out along the walls adjacent to our deck (which is enclosed on three sides), in some cases cascading down into the basement. We’ve been able to catch them in time to avoid any damage worse than a set of ruined ceiling tiles, but we feel like jugglers with too many plates in the air as I race to remove the snow that is feeding these insidious BradliLeaks as it melts. On Thursday alone, I spent four hours raking snow off the roof above the deck, which miraculously is the one section I can reach, and shoveling it no fewer than four times over the railing onto a pile that is now taller than I am.
A roof rake, which I’d never even heard of until this year, is of course one of the most diabolical instruments of torture—uh, tools—designed by the mind of man, so long and cumbersome that if you’re working in a tight space like over our three-sided deck, it’s all you can do not to take out a light fixture, break a window, or put a hole in a screen, only one of which I have done (so far). Add to that a healthy dose of acrophobia for the poor slob up on the ladder trying to manipulate this unwieldy thing, and we’re talkin’ some fun. That said, however, under the circumstances, I am extremely grateful that thanks to my generous and ever-practical in-laws, who found me one when most of the major hardware stores were long since out of stock, I have this in my arsenal.
Naturlich, the necessity of shoveling and raking in response to each successive blizzard has ruled out not only normal activities such as blogging, but also secondary concerns like the satellite dish that hasn’t been able to receive a signal for more than two weeks, or experimenting with ways to clear the gutters. We’ve lost entire days to this never-ending wintry ordeal, since after six or seven hours of back-breaking labor, usually with the knowledge that the next storm is already en route, you’re too exhausted and demoralized to do anything else. Meanwhile, instead of reading this, all of you apartment- and condo-dwellers should be down on your knees, thanking whatever god or demon or machine you pray to that you are (presumably) spared the worst of these effects.