WHEN WINTER WALLOPS MINNESOTA, Minnesotans get resourceful. Or at least that proved true for Randy on Saturday morning when he suited up in his Dickies coveralls and assorted winter gear to remove snow from the end of the sidewalk.
Before he exited the house, I advised him to pace himself given his age and the knowledge that the snow deposited by the city plow would be heavy. We had no idea.
I watched from the window while Randy tossed scoopfuls of rock hard snow onto ever-growing mounds banking the sidewalk. He seemed to be following my take-it-easy advice by occasionally pausing to rest. But then he stopped, headed up the street toward the driveway, then the garage. I figured he was coming inside to warm up.
Not so. Rather he walked out of the garage with an ax. Yes, the tool used to fell trees, split wood or in the recreational competition of ax throwing.
It didn’t take long to see what Randy had in mind. Soon he was swinging the ax into the snow wall lodged at sidewalk’s end. The moisture-heavy snow bladed there by the city plow froze overnight, making it impossible to shovel without first splitting the solid chunks. Unbelievable.
Randy worked tirelessly swinging the ax blade into the rock pack. Swing. Swing. Swing. Then he set the ax aside, grabbed the scoop shovel and flung the snow rocks aside. He repeated the process until the sidewalk end was cleared.
In all the decades of removing snow, and I’ve done plenty of snow-clearing, too (including sidewalk and driveway ends), we’ve never resorted to using an ax. But Paul Bunyan would have been proud of Randy’s resourcefulness. To survive in Minnesota, you sometimes need to think like a legendary lumberjack.
© Copyright 2023 Audrey Kletscher Helbling