I spoke to Tom at the rental place early yesterday morning and he agreed to send D. out with the big backhoe loader to push back my snowbanks. (D. and his father, Allen, have worked for me on and off for years, but D. doesn’t want his name on the internet.) I hated to spend the money when we are due to have rain later this week, but I was resigned.
O.B. argued with me. “Why are you doing that, dear? It’s a waste! It’s gonna thaw!”
My fear was that the drifted snow was already so soft with the warmer temperatures that it was like driving though deep mashed potatoes, and when it froze at night it would be ruts and walls of impenetrable ice. In fact, leaving the barn that morning I had fishtailed into a snowbank and become stuck. The snow was so heavy and dense I could not open my truck door, and had to crawl out the passenger side. In trying to pull me out with his truck, O.B. slid into the heavy, sloppy snow and his truck became stuck as well. After half an hour of shoveling, panting, spinning wheels, and calling directions, we had both trucks free — and O.B. agreed that hiring the loader to come was a good idea.
I began smiling broadly the minute I heard the growl of the machine coming down the driveway and the beep! beep! of the traveling alarm.
“I love heavy equipment!” I said to Randy the painter, who had put down his brushes to watch. “For 360 days a year I’m working alone with a shovel, and then a giant machine comes in and it’s magic!”
D. widened the twisty road all the way down to the barn…
…forced back the snowbanks near the barn so Mike, plowing, would have a place to push future snow in future storms …
… and enlarged the barn turn-around that had been blown in by drifts. It took him a little over an hour.
I stood watching most of the time. I enjoy observing big machines. It is a skill I can’t imagine having.
The really talented operators remind me of musicians. In college I had several friends who were serious fiddlers and banjo pickers; sometimes when they were playing they would be concentrating so deeply they would forget to swallow, and they’d drool. The great operators have the same frown of inner concentration, their eyes focusing on the terrain ahead while their hands and feet move smoothly and rapidly without apparent thought.
The work by the garage was exacting, requiring D. to bring the giant bucket within inches of the temporary plastic stapled across the doorways. D. rolled the bucket, pulled back all the snow, and never touched it. It was a pleasure to watch.
When he was leaving I thanked him and teased, “You’re very, very talented. When you grow up, you might be as good as your dad!”
D. smiled. “He might be as good as me!”
This morning it is -5° and the wind chill is -40° F. Trying to anticipate the weather is always a gamble but I’m glad the snow was moved.