I used to complain about traffic jams and sitting in traffic. Stressing over my recurring predicament was one reason I relocated to the Southwest. And while I would never dream of trading my present situation for the one I abandoned, there are times when my current commute poses a different sort of problem: namely, getting to it.
Except for one winter I spent in Norway, for the first fifty-eight years of my life this time of year meant rain. Certainly there were a handful of days in Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay area when we received a dusting of snow, but my new location at 7,000 feet has given me a new appreciation for the seasons, not least of all winter. And while most of my California friends believe I’ve changed locales for year-around sun, I’m writing this particular post for their edification.
One of the first tools I purchased once Toni, the cats and I got situated—right after I bought my Ford F150 pickup—was a Cub Cadet riding mower. We don’t have a lawn or anything vaguely resembling one, but if we are to stroll across our property, we need to keep the chamisa and sagebrush down to ankle high. I did not appreciate what an invaluable machine it was, however, until the first time we got fifteen inches of snow. Then thirty inches. Then eighteen.
Although Santa Fe County possesses a fleet of snow plows, and it puts them to work right away, first the highways get cleared, then the major access roads. Eventually, they get around to our little dirt road. But if I waited for them to get to us, it would be several days before I could drive to work and my unreasonable creditors won’t wait. Imagine that.
To get to where the county plows on the first day, I need to clear my garage pad and seventy-five yards of driveway. Yes, I said yards. Our two hundred yard cul de sac is much too much for even a team of snow shovels to handle, as is the one hundred yards of adjacent road that lead to where the County has cleared. But if I remove the mowing deck from the garden tractor, then fit a four foot snow blade to the front and secure chains to the rear tires, in powder or moderate snowfall I can clear all that in an hour and a half. Come wet, heavy snow, it’s a two hour job, but it’s do-able.