Digging Trenches

I spent this beautiful 55-degree day outside with just a light jacket. It was so refreshing to stay outside without scurrying back to shelter!

But I had a mission. This was the first thaw we’ve had since around Christmas, so the snow had built up pretty high. In fact, with the last couple snows, we had run out of room to pile it up along the driveway, especially at the foot of the driveway where the plows only made things worse. The entrance to the driveway had gotten progressively more narrow and took a precise turn to get in just right without getting stuck. Plus, the most recent snows hit when it was bitterly cold, so we had done the bare minimum clearing, which had created a nice, icy layer underneath.

So today, I set out to widen the entrance to the driveway. When I got home from my mid-day errands, my neighbor was out doing exactly that. He brought over one of his roof shingle shovels – with a spiked end – that proved very effective at chopping through the ice.

I spent a solid two hours on the end of the driveway alone. The snowpack was at least three feet tall, so I climbed up and hacked at it. Living near the top of a hill, the street often serves as a bit of a waterfall on rainy days and thaw days, so a trickle was already beginning to flow. Even so, since my neighbor – just a tiny bit higher up the hill, whose peak is the house on his other side – had already made good progress, I had a lake of dirty, cold water forming at the end of my driveway where it ran into the still-strong snowpack. So the hacking took on a more strategic approach. I felt like I was part of the Army Corps of Engineers, strategically opening up trenches every time water started pooling somewhere.

With the warm weather, neighbors were out walking their dogs and getting groceries. I chatted with a couple of them as they strolled by, and as I was just about ready to call it good-enough and go back inside, one of those neighbors reappeared in his pickup truck, equipped with a plow blade. He waved me out of the way and shoved what was left of the snow pack back, widening my path even more. I smiled and thanked him with a neighborly wave. As soon as he left, water started pooling again, so my neighbor and I quickly reopened a main trench and were rewarded with a babbling brook.

I’m sure my arms and back will be sore tomorrow, but it was a great day.

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