It's snowing! Which means it's time to shovel out the driveway and sidewalk. This is why (and I know that some of you ladies have been wondering) God created men: To shovel snow. Every winter, out I go, and every winter out I shall go, until the day comes for me to have that inevitable and fatal heart attack while shoveling and die in the traces. The ambulance will come and go, but the snow will remain, and a new generation of men will take up the chore. That's the Circle of Life, the way that anybody who grew up male in Vermont understands it.
Ever wonder what the single absolute BEST snow shovel in the world might be? Luckily, about twenty years ago there was a string of snowstorms which left the hardware stores completely depleted of snow shovels and they had to improvise. One store imported hundreds of shovels normally used in grain elevators to shovel grain. When my standard flat-bladed aluminum shovel fell apart like the piece of worthless consumer trash it was, I was fortunate enough to discover . . . the Grain Hog.
Oh, man, what a shovel. The scoop is made from a tough and durable thermoplastic, so it's lightweight. It has reinforcing ribs, so it's strong. It has high sides, so you can scoop up a lot of snow and it won''t simply slide off if you tilt the blade ever so slightly. It's a real tool designed for people who do real work, so it's made to last. I've had it for decades and the blade still scrapes the surface of the sidewalk straight as straight.
The snow was coming down in soft pellets a few minutes ago. Now it's falling in great big feathery flakes, hurrying toward the ground most of them, but some few dancing upward in merry spirals and loops, enjoying the flight. They mute the colors and soften the outlines of the small old stucco'd houses of Roxborough. Here and there a puff of smoke from a fireplace or wood stove bends down under their weight before dispersing into the air. This really is the most beautiful time of the year.
Mostly because it gives me an excuse to use my Grain Hog.