Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Nanook of the North IV: "Perilous Winter Storm," Packing a "Dangerous Punch," Warnings from the National Weather Service. Yes!

Talk about music to my ears.  Sounds like playtime to me -- again -- though neighbors Tom (above, at right) and Jeff (above left and right) are clearly grownups taking the storm seriously and doing actual work with snow blowers.

I play in the snow with my back-saver shovel and, surprise, clear a lot of the white stuff. But I freely admit that my shovel is no match for their snow blowers.

Being full-fledged adults and good neighbors, and with this being the most snow since 1995-96, Tom and Jeff have been taking turns saving me from a heart attack with their machines. Above Jeff expressing his delight with all the snow.  NOT!

I can't forget Billy next door, either, who did our front walk today with his snow blower and does the whole job when he can.   At left, he is doing his front walk.

Even Billy's next-door sister Kathy has pitched in, offering the use of her snow blower. I was really, really glad that she didn't offer to do it for me.

What was her offer really telling me? What would that have said about me if I let her do it (which I am not above)? Kathy is one self-sufficient lady.  Here she is, above right, doing her  driveway. It's nice to have such good neighbors.

And, now ladies and gentlemen, here is the one neighbor that time and technology seems to have left behind, who apparently lives in some la-la land when it comes to snow removal, who stubbornly does it the old-fashioned way, yours truly.  Here I am shoveling away with my antique back-saver.

Actually, I am not alone in the neighborhood in clinging to the old ways of clearing snow. At the risk of being grounded, or worse, I hereby name another throwback to historic snow-removal technology, my good wife Barbara. And here she is shoveling away with a trusty antique shovel.

With a big one-two-punch storm impending, Diane Sawyer of ABC News told her millions of viewers, "This is the real deal. Be careful." I thought yes and no.  Yes, be careful, don't overdo it with the shoveling, don't drive unless you must, watch your step.

Yes, it'll be what they call "white-out" conditions with treacherous snow-packed roads and highways jammed with creeping cars. Yes, it'll be a "Winter Wallop" with two back-to-back storms dropping some 15  inches--on top of what was already on the ground and piled on roofs.

But no, you don't have to be scared stiff, too frightened to step outside, too adult to let the child in you go out and play in the snow. Speaking for myself, I say, I shout, NO!   I am Nanook of the North.  The Winter Wallop is a gift to me and I will be out into it, awed by its power, soaking up all its natural beauty.

There are risks being on foot out there, no doubt. Cars can swerve into you.  Shoveling show, especially if you are not used to heavy lifting, can push the heart too far. It can seriously mess up your back.

During the last storm, I shoveled snow nearly five hours straight. I did my own place and helped a neighbor, Steve. He wrote of it on his Facebook page and a friend commented that at my age, 72, I shouldn't do it again.  She said that shoveling snow is a major cause of heart attacks and serious injuries.

She's right.  In fact, this month's issue of The American Journal of Emergency Medicine lays out some sobering facts.  From 1990 to 2006, the average number of people treated per year in emergency rooms for injuries suffered while shoveling snow, was 11,500. Men were more frequently hurt than women.

Injuries to the lower back accounted for slightly more than one-third of the snow-related emergency room visits.  Twenty percent of the injuries were from slips and falls; 15% from being struck by a shovel. Nearly 7 percent were "cardiac-related," including 1,647 deaths.

These stats notwithstanding,  I still think sitting around is more dangerous than shoveling snow.  Habitual sitting injures and kills you slowly while gradually taking away your ability to lead a full and active life.

I have no intention of committing suicide or self injury by snow shovel.  In fact, my snow shoveling is careful, methodical, and injury-avoiding. I described it last time. Still, the heavy snow shoveling that I do has risk, but it is a calculated one that I am more than willing to take.

Being out tossing snow around is just too exhilarating, too good for you, and too much fun.  If I do miscalculate and drop dead shoveling, it wouldn't be a bad way to go.

On that uplifting note, let me show you the striking work of art that I went walking in yesterday, Tuesday.   I won't wax poetic.  I did that in the earlier Nanook stories. I'll just just say that as I made my way down the big hill, carefully with baby steps on my way to the Donut Cafe, I felt happy and at peace.

Now I'll let a video from my little Flip show you exactly why.

I knew that my Snow Angel was watching over me, making sure that I didn't fall. Snow Baby (my new name for my wintry playmate) was also with me, whispering sweetly in my ear. However, I sensed a little tension between my snow protectress and my snow playmate.

How can I say this delicately?  Well, let me try.   Snow Angel and Snow Baby both seem to see me as their very own Snow Baby.  Honestly, both want me all to themselves.   I'm dealing with two jealous women. To keep things on the up and up, I bring my wife Barbara into the conversation.
Snow Angel got me to the Donut Cafe safely, where I got a big smile from Lisa when I walked in.  She invited me to sit at the VIP table and proceeded to treat me like a VIP.  On earlier storm visits, she had put me down, innocently and without intending to. She had implied that I was some kind of idiot being out on foot in big snow storms and she mispronounced my name, Pollock, PO-lack.

Now she is trying to make it up to me and is doing a great job of it.  Here I am  at my VIP table, the only such table in the place and with a great window view.

When I want something, all I have to do is nod my head and Lisa hops to. I lift my coffee cup and get an instant refill. Here Lisa serves me my favorite raisin toast. 

She didn't think she looked good enough to have her picture taken.  I told her she looked beautiful -- and she is, in more ways than one. The photo doesn't lie.

Lisa recently went to a high school reunion and she was the only one there who was a grandparent.  I find it hard to believe that she can look that young and be a grandparent.  Lisa, next time I come in, I want to see papers.

The trek back was joyful and uneventful, meaning I didn't fall. Snow Angel protected me and Snow Baby wooed me and the two of them seemed to have resigned themselves to a kind of peaceful coexistence.

It was late morning when I got back to a home and two cars buried in snow. Here is a little video of that triumphant return.

Snow Angel and Snow Baby handed me over to the custody of my wife Barbara, however reluctantly, and gradually, slowly faded from sight -- together.

All was right. Barbara and I picked up our old shovels and went  to work -- er, I mean play.

So long and keep moving.

P.S.  That was Tuesday, yesterday.  Today, repeat above, except that I was too busy shoveling and writing this blog to walk to the Donut Cafe.  See you next storm, Lisa.  Enjoyed meeting you, Brittany, and congratulations on becoming a lifetime subscriber to this blog.

NOTE: My novel, State Kid: Hero of Literacy is now a Google E- book.

Billy Stone was a foster child.

He ran away from abuse.

He went to juvenile prison.

He went up from there.

And he did it his way.

With the power of the written word.


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