Monday, March 19, 2007

Ice Ice Baby

I &(^%!ing HATE ice storms.

We got a layer of ice, several inches of snow, and another layer of ice on top. For most of the first day, it didn't even really stick to anything; the little ice pellets bounced off whatever they hit. Apparently, the snow came later that night. (When I went out to get the paper in the morning, I didn't sink into the snow. I'm six foot two, and not as skinny as I once was. If I don't sink, something's wrong.) Add a little meltage, and it felt like shoveling the world's biggest slurpee. It took two days to dig out enough of the driveway to get my car out. (“Digging” actually involved planing off a layer, then scooping, then planing off another layer. I'd rather just have snow, thanks.)

I actually broke one shovel on the ice. That has never happened before. The lifting was heavy enough that I had to take breaks every few feet. Eventually, The Wife had to pitch in. Yes, I missed my usual Friday workout, but this more than compensated. If the weather cooperates, we should reclaim most of the sidewalk by Friday at the latest.

I also had a chance to reflect yet again on the cruelty of plows. Yes, they clear the road, but they do it by building massive drifts right at the base of the driveway. When the drifts are more slush than snow, shoveling those suckers is a heart attack waiting to happen. Public good, private frustration. There's a metaphor in here somewhere.

The kids saw it differently. The Boy was in hog heaven. He and TW built a mighty fort in the front yard, mostly using 'bricks' of ice shoveled from the driveway. If the house is attacked from the West, we've got the high ground. TB also figured out that Tonka dumptrucks plus snow equals big fun. He spent most of Saturday outside, either working on his fort or hauling snow in his trucks. (The Girl was less impressed – after a few minutes, she just wanted to come inside.)

On Sunday we drove to a hill near TW's old elementary school, and did the only reasonable thing to do with ice-covered snow: sledding. The hill led to the back of the school, and The Boy made it his mission to come as close as humanly possible to the back wall without actually hitting it. After a half hour or so, he dragooned us into joining him. At one point, as I lay on my belly, careening headfirst at breakneck speed toward a brick wall with a fifty-pound boy on my back, it occurred to me to calculate just how many years of formal education I might be about to waste. (Answer: 24) Happily, we escaped relatively unscathed, crania intact.

A few tips, though, for those contemplating sledding on snow with so much ice on it that even I couldn't make snow angels on it:

  1. Before you go rushing down, think about a braking mechanism. It could be the old 'rolling dismount,' it could be your feet, whatever. I don't recommend using your hands. My pinky might never speak to me again.

  2. Aim for something soft and cheap. I can't stress this enough.

  3. For reasons I'll leave to the physicists, it's easier to steer straight when you're on your belly and headfirst. That doesn't necessarily make it a good idea.

  4. Wear clothes you wouldn't mind being caught dead in. I'm just sayin'. In my massive, green, puffy parka, I looked like a giant broccoli, which would not be my preferred method for leaving this world.

The Wife nearly hurt herself laughing at my unique sledding 'form.' I say, discipline is an underrated virtue, and the ability to hold a pose for an extended period – especially when hurtling toward certain doom – is not to be sneezed at. Then again, I say a lot of things. And, to be fair, a six-foot-two broccoli holding a headfirst pose for a couple hundred feet at highway speeds is probably pretty funny.

The Boy was actually tired by the end of the weekend, which is headline news in itself. I'd prefer a less draining way to achieve that, but getting Perpetual Motion Kid to stop is no small thing. If we can get through this without cranial trauma or basement flooding, I guess it'll be fine.

Storms look different when you're the parent.