I sold the snow-blower on a brisk fall day in October.
The machine had just been serviced and would faithfully start each time on the first mighty tug of the starter rope. But when I fetched it home from the shop I didn’t put it back in the barn where it has lived for 15 years. Instead, I wheeled it to the front lawn and put a “For Sale” sign on the big red bucket.
My wife arrived home before any sale occurred. She had a few questions.
No, I said, I was not planning to replace the machine with a newer model. Yes, I planned to do the shoveling myself. Yes, I knew that I had just turned 52 years old. No, I didn’t think I would end up having a hear attack.
Fifteen year earlier, I had insisted that the big red machine be included in the purchase price of the house in Farmington. The paved driveway is 25 yards long and offers no reasonable way for a truck to plow snow or a place to store snow it after it is plowed. The snow-blower appeared to be the perfect tool for the job.
And I used it — sometimes. When the stars all aligned and the machine would actually start and run on a day that required snow removal it was a handy thing to have. But mostly I cursed it for taking up too much barn space. I cursed it for being so loud that my ears would ring and my head would ache after using it. I cursed it when it wouldn’t start. And I cursed it when it did start and belched acrid exhaust smoke that made my clothes stink.
In short, I had the same kind of relationship with the snow-blower that I have with most machines that rely upon internal combustion engines. So usually I shoveled the driveway.
Instead of running a quarter-mile through fresh-fallen snow to the gym for an early morning workout — I would grab a shovel and clear the driveway quickly enough to get my heart-rate elevated for a half-hour or so. I taught myself to push and scrape the snow rather than lift it whenever possible. I wore traction devices designed for winter hiking over my snow boots. And I developed the habit of clearing the pavement two or three times during a big storm rather than waiting to excavate the full accumulation.
In the process, I spent a lot of hours outside in the soft hush of bluish light that accompanies snowstorms. I breathed in a lot of cold, snow-washed air. And I avoided some really boring indoor gym workouts.
The snow-blower sold for $300 that same afternoon. One less motor in my life.