The Big Dig

Snow is beautiful. Unless it's in my driveway.

We lucky folks in Maryland got a record 40+ inches of snow in less than a week. It was the most beautiful, fun inconvenience in recent memory. I'm sure we all have stories. Here's mine.

Friday February 5, 2010. The white stuff got me out of work 2 hours early. Our friends George and Jill would be throwing a party that night because another friend, Andy, was about to get deployed to a hostile land where the chance of being shot is high. No, I'm not talking about New Jersey. Anyway, Traci and I were concerned with getting stuck in the snow, but it was more important to be with our friends, so she, Bianca and I drove over there in the early evening with the intent of leaving by 10 PM. Well, the party was so fun that we ended up staying til midnight. As we had feared, Traci's Camry couldn't make it out of the neighborhood. George drove the three of us plus Chloe back to Traci's house in his 4WD vehicle while Andy got Traci's car safely to the side of the road. By the time we got to bed it was about 1:30 AM.

Saturday February 6. It snowed all night and much of the day, blanketing the neighborhood with well over 2 feet of snow. I went out to shovel the driveway and part of the deck (doggie bathroom). Bianca and Chloe offered to help. Now, when a couple of 9-year-old children offer to help with a difficult chore, be afraid. Be very, very afraid. In the 5 minutes they spent "shoveling" before they got bored and went to play in the yard, they were unable to remove any of the snow from the driveway due to the 5-foot snow walls on either side. However, they did manage to pack down quite a bit of snow, which made it necessary for me to scrape it from the pavement instead of simply scooping it up. Thanks, kids.

I managed to finish in under 4 hours, coming away with only a sore back and a mild coronary. After that it was time to relax for the rest of the -- What's that, honey? Bianca's 10th birthday party is today? I have to go out into the blizzard to walk a few of the girls back here? Yes, dear.

Bianca and I set out on our 38-mile trek. In the snow. Uphill. Both ways. I pulled her in a sled for a good part of the way. You've heard of Donner, Dasher, Blitzen, etc, right? Well, I was the Jewish reindeer, Shvitzen.

We met the girls, and the 4 of us walked back with their overnight bags and gifts in the sled. The other guests arrived after walking and/or being driven(!) over. Traci and I were then treated to the soothing sounds of 7 screaming girls for the rest of the evening. And the following morning. And the following afternoon.

When the girls finished dinner Traci and I dined on their leftovers. After a day of manual labor, the pizza and cake tasted especially good.

Sunday February 7. The temperature outside was 8 degrees. (That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.) I made a mental note to call Al Gore and demand that he return the Academy Award that he got for his PowerPoint presentation.

We fed the girls a low-calorie breakfast of bacon, eggs, 3 kinds of pancakes, and real maple syrup, and we were once again content to live on their scraps. Then the girls went out to play. Of course, when I say "play", I mean "create more work for Ben". They turned the driveway into a little city by carving out little "houses" in the snow walls. Now, where do you think all the snow that they dug out went? That's right. So I got out the shovel and cleaned up all the construction rubble, because God forbid I should rest after having moved 73 tons of snow the previous day.

After a while they got cold and went inside, thoughtfully leaving all their wet outerwear in the laundry room and demanding hot chocolate before heading off to the basement for more screaming. I dried their clothing. Have you ever stuffed 7 pairs of snow pants, gloves, hats and jackets into a dryer? It's not easy, I'll tell you.

After most of the girls got picked up by their respective parents, George came by to drive Traci, Bianca, Chloe and me to a Super Bowl party at Andy and Diana's. We had another great time, and then George drove Traci and Bianca back to Traci's house and me back to my house. George, you are a great guy, no matter what Jill says about you.

Monday February 8. Bianca's actual birthday. Many people were still snowed in and digging out. No one in our Severna Park social group had to work. Except George. This once again illustrates how nice guys finish last.

I bottled a few cases of homebrew and then shoveled my driveway and patio. Actually I didn't have to shovel the entire driveway because my friend Mike who lives next door had shoveled about half of it in exchange for Ben Beer. I then collected a lot of snow and melted it down to about 17 gallons of water to be used for brewing the next day. Note that this was FRESH snow, i.e., not yellow.

I then went to dig Traci's car out, but Andy and Jim had already done it. Bless their souls! I retrieved the key from Andy and drove the car to my house. I then filled the rest of my afternoon and evening with e-mail, Facebook, beer and TV. The weather report said that we had another foot of snow coming, and my reaction was the same as yours, which was: "Are you $%@#ing kidding me??"

Tuesday February 9. I brewed 11 gallons of snow beer, or "igbrew" as Andy put it. Then I drove to Traci's to watch movies and rest up for more shoveling the next day.

Wednesday February 10. Another blizzard. George and Andy dropped by. George had gotten Traci some much-needed vodka, asking only for Ben Brew in return. You see? Beer has a thousand and one uses! So George and Andy had some Ben Brew while Traci had Bloody Marys and I stayed sober in preparation for shoveling.

I spent a few hours clearing the newly fallen foot of snow from Traci's driveway and deck. It was not so much the shoveling of snow as the heaving it over the Great Walls that tired me out.

Thursday February 11. Managed to drive to my house. Shoveled my driveway. Actually had mail in my mailbox. After returning to Traci's house we decided to have an impromptu party the following evening for the people on her street, so we printed up some flyers and Bianca and I knocked on everyone's door handing them out.

Friday February 12. Slept late. It was a beautiful day, with a blue sky and crisp air. It felt just like autumn, except that there were no leaves, in was 34 degrees out, and there was 4 feet of snow on the ground. I ran some errands and went home to pick up some Ben Brew for that evening's party. I chilled it naturally.

That night more than a dozen people, some of whom we'd never met before, came over and we all enjoyed an evening of socializing, food, and almost a case of Ben Brew.

Saturday February 13. Traci was hungover. How hungover? Let me put it this way: she wouldn't even get on Facebook! She spent the entire day in bed (okay, part of it on the couch) watching movies. I watched some with her and also had a few brews. It was a day of doing basically nothing, like Congress except without mishandling taxpayer money.

Sunday February 14. Valentine's Day. Traci and I did nothing special because we view this holiday pretty much the way we view other holidays: as businesses' way of getting us to buy even more stuff we don't need. Our friend Linda had a NASCAR party, and although Traci and I have no interest in watching a bunch of rednecks drive in circles, we went in order to be with our friends. Lots of great food and libations were consumed, and everyone had a great time, especially when I passed out and they did unmentionable things to me with Post-It notes.

I learned a few lessons from the back-to-back blizzards: