Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Snow anger

"Don't get angry with the snow: it will come anyway." That is probably the best piece of advice I will receive this, or any winter. It came from my 72 year-old next door neighbour, he who memorably swore last spring that there were definitely no bears on the mountain he was taking me to. The first thing we saw was bear crap. He's a character all right.

Dealing with the snow from the roof. The cat hasn't been seen for a while.

I reckon he knows a thing or two about living with snow by now. It was good of him to come over and show me how to make use of the water from the road sprinklers. They had seemed perplexing until this, their glory hour, arrived. River water is used to keep sections of road through villages clear. Whilst a prodigious amount of snow falls, the temperature is not cold enough to freeze them. If you are fortunate enough to live by these sprinklers, they make your work much easier. Chuck the snow in the roadside drain, and ten minutes later, no snow. Or, in our case, new snow to take its place in the heaviest December snowfall for thirty eight years.

The drain covers up to receive their load of snow

I was somewhat chastened when he bent down and swiftly hoisted up one of the heavy metal grills. I had been completely unable to shift it when trying to rescue my foolish mobile phone, which was taking an ill-advised  dip in the cooling waters during the hot weather. It hasn't been itself since: decidedly off-peaky. I had weakly assumed they were welded down. They are very heavy and wouldn't find bone an obstacle to their downward progress, should they fall in imitation of Madame Guillotine.

The proper icing of a car cake

Shigemura-san then screamed up in his K-van, leaping out brandishing various snow-related implements. "Like this Geoff-san, like this!" he cried, leaping balletically around the pavement, elegant sweeps of his revelatory snow-plough-on-a-stick sending impressive heaps of slushy snow sliding across tarmac into the drain and onto the road, to it's watery doom. He loves a good mission - in an earthquake he would achieve greatness.

With a flourish he produced a big telescopic brush-and-scraper-thingy. "Please buy! Please buy!" It seems that if you leave your car for a short time outside, it can quickly reveal it's ambition to be part of a mogul skiing course, taking the hump and freezing you out in no uncertain terms. It will merely snigger at an old store card or hand scraper - they are not going to cut it.

Its under there somewhere. Someone is not going to the shops for a while.

Wonderful though the snow-plough-on-a-stick and the big telescopic brush-and-scraper-thingy are, they are small beer in the snow equipment stakes. As dusk seeped in the snow was still falling in frightening quantities, and I had shovelled a foot of snow into the drain for the third time that day. I was tired but manly, daunted but upbeat, an undercurrent of terror ridden by a tiny blue boat called 'Coping,' it's captain laughing hysterically at the shark thrashing around on deck. Keep it together man, keep it together. Remember the advice, Luke remember the advice. What was it I was supposed to remember? Touch a policeman - feel the force? No, no, that wasn't it. "Don't get angry with the snow." Ah, wise words. Then growling into the dusk came the mother and father of all personal snow devices, a beast with whirling teeth spitting spume into the night, a mechanical fury. I want one.

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