This time it wasn’t a problem

Published 10:38 am Wednesday, December 3, 2008

“Winter is what we were meant for, and we welcome it. We thrive on adversity, and that’s just the truth. The snow shovel is the secret of happiness.” — Garrison Keillor

On the adversity side of winter, Sunday I transported Casey back to Eau Clair where he is attending school. He fell asleep before I got the car backed out of the driveway. For some reason going to bed at a reasonable time on a Saturday night, before going back to school, doesn’t seem to work for him. And if you were around Austin or heading east on Interstate 90 Sunday, you soon discovered the 32 to 33 degree snowy rain was blowing hard from the north. Probably not a real problem if your windshield wipers worked properly.

When the first semi passed, snowy water engulfed the windshield in my line of vision that the wiper skipped over allowing me barely see anything ahead, except the blur of the passing semi pulling in front of us.

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At the Eyota exit, we got off the freeway and then stopped down the road in Eyota to see if they had wipers. They didn’t. From there we followed a slow string of five vehicles until we neared Plainview where there became six. However the squeaking of the windshield was not letting Casey get the sleep he wanted, and he suggested I try the windshield washer to see if that would help. It did.

From there on it was good sleeping for Casey. Once we crossed the Mississippi River the snow let up for a nice ride on highways 25 and 85, two of my favorite Wisconsin roads I’ve mentioned before that led us to Eau Clair.

Once in Eau Clair we were able to turn left as Casey directed me the last time I came over to pick him up. It was just seconds on that road when I noticed the first service station I stopped at for directions the last time I searched for his place. This time Casey said, “turn here.” I did and in minutes we were at his place.

The previous attempt took close to an hour in Eau Clair to locate him. Maybe if I had a cell phone…

We unloaded his “stuff” and I was back on the road, stopping first for some Hardees’ coffee, but they had none, so I settled for some “senior coffee” at a McDonald’s drive through.

The snow had moved further east on the way back. The windshield wipers held up.

The new interstate section from the Rochester exit to Dexter was the most difficult stretch to drive on.

I made it back to my part-time job with minutes to spare.

Later I shoveled the walk and spread the “de-icer” on the sidewalk. When I got home, I shoveled some more.

I think there is something to what Garrison says about “the snow shovel being the secret of happiness.” I enjoy shoveling. It’s a nice quiet exercise.

However, I didn’t like it two years ago when one of the first deep wet snows fell.

My shoveling shoulder has still not forgiven me for that. Fortunately for us our driveway neighbor has a snow blower and when it’s a big snow he helps us out.

The two lawn mowers I operate are both “engineless.” They don’t pollute the air nor do I have to purchase gasoline for them, and they have little to do with global warming.

So on Sunday I faced “winter’s adversity” part of the day, and I was able to end the day with some shoveling just as Garrison states above: “The secret of happiness.”

Skyler too was home over for his Thanksgiving break. He brought with him a copy of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, one of the few books I read in high school or maybe it was college, only this time I had a few tears in my eyes at the end. The first time that’s happened reading a book.

I’m currently reading Coming Up for Air by George Orwell, a half price purchase in what once was The Constant Reader in Albert Lea. A line in this story reads: “I read the things I wanted to read, and I got more out of them than I ever got out of the stuff they taught me at school.”

At some point he wrote: “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”