GETTING READY for spring is hard work, but fun work. Winter, not so much.
Spring is all about rebirth, sunny days, planting and cleansing.
Winter, on the other hand, is about shutting down, girding for inclement weather, ever-shorter days, and waiting it out.
Having lived both in the city and in the country, I can tell you that when it comes to the change of seasons, everything in the country is bigger.
Winter, for example, isn’t about scraping windshields and sidewalks (because there are no sidewalks), dealing with annoying windrows left by the City plows, or shoveling out driveways to keep things nice and tidy.
In the country, it’s about struggling to maintain access, as in, can I get my vehicle off the main road and somewhere near the house, as opposed to hiking in with snowshoes.
A friend of mine, who also lives in the country, told me a couple of weeks ago, as we were discussing the weather, that his driveway is 1,200 ft. long.
“I have no idea how long my driveway is,” I admitted. “I’m not that anal about it.”
I thought that last part was a clever comeback, as if to say, “Yeah, everybody has long driveways in the country, we just deal with it.”
Rural man stuff.
Truth is, when the first snowfall hit us a few Sundays ago, I was unprepared. The fall weather had been so pleasant I’d allowed myself to fall behind, so to speak, even though I know damn well the first snow hits like clockwork the second or third week of November.
As a result, I found myself hooking up the big plow and bucket to the trusty McCormick as it snowed, instead of being ready as I should have been.
Rural people with long driveways use a variety of contraptions to deal with snow. Myself, I’m thankful every winter’s day for my four-wheel-drive chained-up tractor.
Others get by with a really good yard tractor, but a heavy snowfall will quickly overwhelm it. Various ATVs and skid steers, and occasionally a front-mounted plow on a pickup truck, are other popular methods.
Longer driveways aren’t the whole story, of course. Tarping is an important pre-winter chore for those of us who don’t have big equipment sheds to keep hay bailers and the like out of the weather. There’s a full day’s work right there,
Depending on whether you’re on a community water system, or draw your own water from a well or river, and what kind of system you use, there’s work to be done insulating the pump so it doesn’t freeze up — waking up one morning and finding there’s no water for a shower isn’t pleasant.
Again, depending on the situation, keeping the pump and pipes from freezing up can be a winter-long chore, especially when temperatures drop to the minus 10 or 20 range.
And, if you’ve got livestock, they need to be given extra attention during sub-zero weather to keep them well fed and as dry as possible. It isn’t easy in the snow-melt-rain-snow-melt kind of winters we’ve had in recent years.
All of these things, of course, are worth it for the special rewards that rural living brings, but when spring rolls around you can almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the countryside.
Mel Rothenburger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.