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January 7, 2008

Snow Fences

It wouldn’t be winter in Nederland without a snowy onslaught and we’re getting one this afternoon. It’s in the low twenties, but the wind is calm and for that I am exceedingly thankful. We’ve been trying to consider the best place on our property to put a snow fence. If you’ve driven across Wyoming on I-80, you know what I am talking about. Those oddly angled, short lengths of wood rail fences placed parallel to one another, seemingly in the middle of nowhere off the interstate. I am looking at the more utilitarian variety, safety orange plastic. I can’t even believe the two words “snow” and “fence” are actually being used together in my vocabulary, but there you have it. I saw the best homemade bumper sticker on the back of a truck going through the traffic circle the other day. It simply read: Nederland, The Other Windy City. It’s like Ani DiFranco used to say about the gold fish and the little plastic castle. How the hell do we forget, without fail, every single year, what lies ahead of us just when the daylight begins to wax?

After ten days up in the Vail Valley for the holidays, we returned home last Friday afternoon to a driveway that was impassable. Not only had Nederland received about ten inches of snow in our absence, but high winds had shut down Eldora and apparently blown most of the town’s loose powder into our yard. Don’t let the word powder fool you. This was more like a solid cement-scape stubbornly blocking our egress. We parked the car on the road and hiked up to the house to suit up for the task at hand: moving 500 cubic feet of hard packed snow drift. We opened the garage door from the inside and there we discovered a three foot wall of hard pack before us. The snowblower was useless. We attacked it with the steelhead garden shovel knocking snow down into the garage, where we could then pick it up with the actual snow shovel and toss it out of our house. After a path was cleared, we pulled the snowblower out and attempted to plow through the drift. Instead, three pins immediately sheered off the plating, separating the blades from the axle and rendering the machine a beautiful industrial sculpture for our wintery yard. The next two hours consisted of: break up drift, turn over snow, switch shovels, bend, dig, lift, walk to the edge of the driveway, dump, walk back, repeat. Every ten minutes or so, said actions included picking up a frozen, slobber covered tennis ball with an edge of the shovel and hurling it over the side of the driveway for the StellaMonster, who thought the entire experience was designed for her intense pleasure. By six we had the halogen building lights on. By seven, Jim and I stood at the top of the driveway exceedingly pleased with our bad ass, frost tinged selves. By nine the next morning, I could barely get out of bed and the wind was already back at it, depositing snow along the side of the hill abutting the drive way. Needless to say, a snow fence (and massage) is in our immediate future.

The white stuff does afford some beautiful wildlife viewing, however. I watched a plush coyote walking down the center of our road, leaving pettite foot prints in the snow, searching out a sorry housecat or reckless squirrel (as if the Abert’s aren’t having enough trouble fighting off the Eastern Grey Squirrel invasion). It paused at the dead end of our road, did a bit of grooming, and then walked back down the way it had come, again past our house. Stella was beside herself at the front window, desperate to get out and investigate the thing. Her disappointment was palpable.

We had our first public test of the coming 2008 presidential election last week and based on the news coverage the next day, you would have thought Britney Spears had won the Iowa Caucuses...for both parties. Jesus.

Back to google for me. Who knew proper snow fence placement could be so crucial?

Posted by bethamsel at 3:44 PM