Snow Cover

February 2, 2011

A gardener’s best friend in the winter. It’s the stuff that protects our perennials, is the best cover for roses, holds mulch in place and actually keeps the ground warmer. Snow.

And goodgardengodinheaven, did we get alot of it.

I hear the plow scraping and beeping our cul-de-sac clean as I get into the shower. 30 minutes later as I head downstairs dressed for the day (I’m really rather low-maintenance), the street is again covered in snow. If not for the huge piles of snow pushed against our tree, you would never know a plow had been by. Tony tells me he had to force the back door open, just a few inches, to get the dogs out earlier. There is no opening the front door. Griffey, a dog bred for snow, is dying to go out and play.

I make photographs from the slit of the back door, astonished at the volume of snow. The seat of the groovy bench is covered and snow mounds halfway up the backrest. The squirrel feeders sit on the snow. The bottom of the finch feeder is nestled in a cup swirled into the snow. The pond is lost, only the posts of the bridge standing in a salute in the drift. The poinsettia that I threw out the other day is a slash of red against the snow.

From the front window, I see our porch covered in at least a foot of the white stuff. Yep, this door is not opening. Coneflowers, protected from the blasts of wind, are mounded with inches-high flakes. The rocker and glider are covered. The front walk is non-existent, covered in feet and feet of snow, but I don’t think we need to worry about that HDMI cable from Amazon being delivered today. Neatnik Neighbor is snowblowing and I wonder how many times he’s already been out. He hates a messy driveway.

Griffey is crying at the garage door, anxious to frolic. Smart dog – he knows this is another way out. I pull on my parka, my brown and pink plaid boots, matching gloves and hat. (Even in a blizzard, color coordination is important. Hmmm… the kelly green sweatpants strike a discordant note.)

Griffey bounds into the garage and stands by the overhead door as I hit the button. The door starts up, but all we see is a white wall. And the white wall just keeping growing as the door goes up, fully half of the door’s height when we see the entire thing. Griffey looks at me in utter confusion. I hit the button for the other door and his hopes for a different result are soon dashed. Another solid wall of snow. He is desolate. And utterly confused.

I laugh with delight and shout for Tony. This is just so cool. Snow, snow, snow and more snow! It is still blowing, still coming down, still accumulating. What an absolute blast. I pick Griffey up so he can see above the snow, then grab a shovel and begin a narrow path so I can get out of the house. Griffey waits patiently; Tony grabs a shovel too. Success! A path and Griffey leaps (well, it’s his attempt at a leap) out into the snow!

Ack. Snowblowers everywhere. Loud and smelly, shattering the peace. Gosh, I hate a snowblower. The thrust of a shovel, the poof of snow falling into a mound or the roar of a motor flinging snow into the air? Yes, we are old school here, with a variety of shovels for plowing, scraping ice or lifting. It is man against nature, exercise in the fresh air, it is satisfying.

There is snow plastered to the front of the house, splattered painted with crystals. There are swirls in the drifts, there are cups where we can see grass. There is a huge, perfect dip that runs without a fault along the fence, all the way along the edge of the property. Everywhere, the wind has been made solid. The weglia is completely covered, the pumpkins shrouded, the firewood buried. There is certainly no getting to our front door.

The autumn clematis and trellis hold the snow next to the house and now I fret about water rotting the cedar.

There is a sculpture of white around the rainbarrel, undulating curves and crests, pockets of air and space and snow. There is no snow, just bare grass, in front of the hosta bed.

There are no prints. No Damn Rabbits, no squirrels, no coyotes, no birds. No one is flying or hopping or bouncing (except Griffey who comes out, goes in to warm up and then comes back out again, many times, while we shovel). The snow is pristine and unbroken and clean and crisp and smooth, like icing palette-knifed into swirls on a cake.

We take a break and Eliza joins us to finish the driveway. I dig a path from the backdoor so the door can open and shut and the dogs can go out without falling into a drift of snow. Now it has stopped snowing, the sun is shining brightly and melts all the powder on the driveway. It also melts all the snow on the siding, so I’m relieved about rotting wood. Tony and I decide not to do the front walk and then I start on it anyway. For every one shovel length of sidewalk cleared, I lift at least 8 shovels full of snow and throw it on top of the peonies, the hydrangea, the iris and the butterfly bushes. As they are already completely submerged, I doubt they feel it. About a third of the way through, I stop and breathe and stretch. Tony does another third and gives in too. Now I have my determination back and drill in, finishing a steeply-walled, narrow – one shovel wide – path all the way to the door.

Tony really wants that HDMI cable.

Not much gets done during working hours, so I catch up in the evening, into the night and then the wee hours of the next morning. And I don’t mind at all.

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