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Hanging Up The Snow Shovel

by Tina Traster

“Oh my God,” I yelled, peering out the window. “Daddy’s had a heart attack. Wait here.”

I ran down the freshly paved path to the far end of my property, where my husband, Ricky, was laying face up, arms splayed, snow shovel at his side.

“What are you doing out here in pajamas?” he asked. “You’re going to get sick!”

“What the hell are you doing lying on the ground?” I countered. “I thought you had a heart attack.”

His wool hat and down jacket were soaked through; he looked like he’d been to a sweat lodge, not shoveling. “I got tired. I’m taking a rest,” he said, laughing.

“Not funny.”

Marching back up the path, I told myself, “That’s it. Next year we’re hiring a professional plowing service.”

We live on a mountain precipice 500 feet above sea level. There are times when Nyack gets rain and we, high above it, get snow. Our property is a plowing nightmare. You need to walk roughly 40 feet along a stone path to get from our front door to the edge of the driveway. The driveway slopes westward and precipitously downward. Last year, we finally had it graded because it was nearly impossible to get cars out after a storm.

Our first winter here, a mortgage broker from the city came to our house (ah, the good old days) to do a refinance. It had snowed the day before. He walked up the path gingerly, wearing his pinstripe suit and lace-up brown leather shoes.

“Welcome to the country,” we said. He thought it all looked charming ‘€” until he tried to get his car out of the driveway. After spinning his wheels, he and Ricky spent an hour digging the car out.

“Let’s hire a professional plow company next year,” I’d said. “Don’t be ridiculous,” Ricky answered. “We’re rugged individualists. That’s why we live on this mountain.”

Winters two through four were pretty much the same. Not a huge amount of snow, which made the hard job of plowing manageable.

But 2010 was the year of the snowstorm. By mid-February, I’d lost track of the inch/foot total.

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We were woken at 4:40 a.m. by a deafening scraping sound. Ricky flew out of bed and pulled up the shade. “Will you look at that?” he said, observing the McMansion across the road. “He’s got a plow service that comes in the middle of the night.”

At 5:30, more scraping. This time from the guy next to the McMansion, who has his own plow. Back and forth he went, clearing snow, spitting gravel into the road.

At dawn, loud buzzing. Our neighbor, who loves his power toys, was now using a snow blower.

“Hasn’t anybody around here heard of a shovel?” my husband grunted, unwilling to admit he has snow-removal envy.

A few weeks ago, I was home alone. Our path and driveway were once again an icy mess from the most recent storm. Ricky had done a bit of plowing, but I was afraid to go outside, let alone move the car. Looking out the window, I saw two men in sweatshirts carrying snow shovels over their shoulders. Either I was having a religious experience or this was my lucky day.

I ran out and asked if I could hire them to dig me out.

“OK,” one said. “$40.” I would have given him $50.

When Ricky came home that night, he gave me a giant hug. “Wow, sweetheart, thanks.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day,” I crowed.

Then the big one hit. Twenty-four inches fell over 48 hours. It was paradise to behold. My daughter Julia said, “Mommy, it looks like the ‘€˜Nutcracker’ ballet out there” ‘€” and it did.

The next morning, Ricky started plowing the path. It was like watching someone try to empty the ocean with a spoon. I left Julia behind to finish the snowman we were building and trudged through waist-deep snow to the top of our driveway. I flagged down a guy with a plow on his car and offered to pay him.

He pulled into the driveway, and when he tried to maneuver the shovel with the car, his wheels spun. He was stuck. He wasn’t going anywhere, and neither was the snow. For the next hour, he and Ricky shoveled out the car, which had barely made a small dent in clearing the snow from our driveway.

That night, Ricky soaked in the tub, complaining how much his knee hurt.

The next day, I called someone who sent two guys to shovel us out. They did a stellar job.

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“So are you ready to get a professional service next year?” I asked Ricky.

“Why don’t we get a heated driveway,” he suggested, a clearly reasonable alternative to my preposterous suggestion.

Tina Traster writes the New York Post’s ‘€œBurb Appeal’€ column and the ‘€œThe Great Divide’€ at

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