Snow Plows

People who live in tropical environments rarely if ever experience the sound of the plow.  Living in New England, I hear it more often than I’d like to.  Sometimes I hear it and think back fondly to snow days in school.  Sometimes I hear it and think I’ve got a rough commute ahead of me and better hustle outside to clear the driveway before I’m late.  Either way, I always think it a pleasant sound.

The sound of the plow happens at any time of day when its snowing of course, but it’s most meaningful when it wakes you from your sleep early in the morning.  The scraping sound of a plow against pavement starts as a distant but unmistakeable rumble that increases in volume and vibration as it approaches your house and eventually fades away as it moves past.  Usually there’s another one following close behind to widen the path that the first plow is carving into the street.  Living on a cul de sac, I know that this sound will return within a few minutes once they’ve completed the circle at the end of the street.

The sound of the plow is a wake-up call.  Normally the sound of the plow would be followed closely by the phone ringing an automated message that the kids don’t have school.  Time to get out and clear the driveway.  Will it be shovel or snowblower?  We’ll see soon enough.  Back when I was a kid you needed to turn on the news and hope you’d see your town’s name scroll across the bottom of the screen or hear someone read the name on the radio.  Nowadays there’s no drama – you get the text message and automated call well before you’d see it on the television screen.

The plow invokes mostly positive memories for me despite the call to labor on the driveway that it offers.  Contrast to the sound of the trash truck approaching, which can be panic-inducing if you forgot to put the barrels out.  Living on a cul de sac, I’ve been saved a few times over the years by rolling the barrels across the street to have them picked up on the return trip.

There have been a few battles over the years with the plow guy.  I stake the curve on the street so that the plows don’t ride across the front edge of my lawn and rip it up.  In years when we get a lot of snow the plow guys (or ladies) grow increasingly ambivalent about the border between street and lawn and inevitably they’ll encroach on the yard mowing down my line of fiberglass stakes.  In those moments my goodwill towards the plow turns to righteous indignation.  But I know they have a tough job to do and generally I’ll give them a pass.  After all, they’re up all night plowing while I’m fast asleep, dreaming of snow days.