Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tools of the Trade

This time of year, I wonder why people live in Wisconsin at all. Why is it humans choose to live in a place where the air is so cold it can kill you? Think of all the things in the world that can kill you -- guns, knives, poison -- and then add AIR to that list if you live in Wisconsin.

I'm trying to picture how the upper Midwest came to be populated at all. I can picture the Native Americans arriving many years ago, taking a look at the plentiful prairies, the vast herds of buffalo, the lakes teeming with fish -- and then thinking to themselves, "Wow, this place must be MISERABLE come February," and then they kept on migrating to someplace with air that doesn't kill people dead. Like maybe South Carolina.

My point is that in Wisconsin, we know cold. We know snow. And we know the thing where it rains, and then it freezes, and then it snows, and then it rains again, creating a substance that in Wisconsin we like to call "a fucking mess."

Because of all this snow, we have some specialized snow removal tools. Just like a great artist has many different brushes to apply paint on a canvas, we have any different shovels. I thought I'd introduce you to some of them in case you live in one of those places that the Indians should have kept right on migrating to.

Your father had one of these.
This is the classic snow shovel. It's the way people shoveled snow in the 1950s, which by golly is good enough for me. Sure, it's not the most ergonomically designed tool, but it gets the job done. You can never have too many of this type of snow shovel. We have may six or seven of them.

Yes, I have a license for this.
This is the classic snow shovel, but on performance-enhancing drugs. First of all, the turbo shovel is quite a bit wider, which can help you shovel faster. Second, it's made of plastic rather than metal so it's lighter. The metal strip on the edge helps you scrape ice of the sidewalk. This is my go-to shovel -- my main squeeze, as it were.

Helpful in case I ever need to power a steam locomotive.
 This big daddy snow shovel is good for one thing: shoveling out the end of the driveway after the snow plow has left a three-foot wall of snow and ice chunks at the end of your driveway, which by the way is by far the most annoying part of any shoveling job.

Ice, I will chop you!
You can shovel as much as you want, and you're still going to wind up with a thick layer of ice on your sidewalk sometimes. That's where the ice chopper comes in. Unfortunately ice chopping only really works when it is warm enough that the ice has melted at least a little bit, loosening its grip on the pavement. And if it's warm enough for the ice to start melting, then that means all the snow will be melting too, and then meltwater will run down onto your sidewalk and then freeze overnight, covering your sidewalk with a thick layer of ice again. Try not to think about that.

There you have it: your essential snow removal tools for a Wisconsin winter. Or you could just show some common sense and move to South Carolina.

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