When the telephone first rang, I was in the middle of a dream.
Sheryl Crow and I were snuggling on the white sand beach of a tropical paradise - Tahiti, maybe.
"OK, sure, I love your writing," she said. "But that's not the real reason I'm crazy about you."
"Oh?" I said. "So what is it?"
"Simple," she said. "It's because you're just so much fun."
The phone rang the second time, and, only half-awake, I picked it up.
"All I wanna do is have some fun," I mumbled.
"Yeah, you and everyone else, weirdo," said the Amazon Queen, on the other end. "But I didn't call you to hear the obvious. I called to tell you school's cancelled."
"Remember all the snow we got last night?"
"Yeah I guess so."
"Well, if you look outside, you won't have to guess any longer. We got nailed and we're still getting nailed."
And with that, she hung up.
I fumbled on my sweats, stumbled down the stairs and opened the front door. For whatever the AQ lacks in diplomacy, she doesn't lie: Since my house lies below road level, I was going to have to dig my way out of the house, literally, just to reach my driveway.
And I didn't have a lot of time to do it, since I had to take out my dogs. Or more exactly, I had to take out my latest canine addition, Little Lulu. To my old boy, Shaky Jake, the great outdoors is his only bathroom. It's Lulu's bathroom, too as long as she doesn't have to wait, in which case her bathroom is the great indoors.
Shoveling against the tide
My digging and dogging done, I surveyed the damages.
My entire driveway was socked in, and on the windward side of the car, the snow was up to the windows. On the lee side, it was "only" up to the doors. And as more of it kept falling, I was standing knee-deep in the stuff, considering my alternatives. After due consideration, I realized I had no alternatives.
The good thing about having no alternatives is you know exactly what you have to do. In my case I grabbed my shovel and had at it.
Why no snowblower? Well, I've got a few reasons.
One is they cost a bunch of money, make a bunch of noise and burn a bunch of fuel. Another is my driveway isn't huge, so I rarely get so much snow I can't stay ahead of it.
Also, I like to shovel. OK, so I don't like shoveling like I like eating hot fudge sundaes or being in the Winter Carnival parade. But still, it's repetitious to the point of meditation, and I get to see my results when I'm done.
And finally, it's good exercise. The way I look at it, if I can shovel myself out after a monster snowstorm without either blowing out a coronary artery or my back, I'll keep the Grim Reaper at bay for at least a few more months.
I don't know what time I started, but I pretty much cleared out the driveway in a couple of hours. I'd also cleared out my mind, my sinuses and my circulatory system (I hoped). Next, I swept most of the snow off the car, so it looked more like a vehicle and less like a mogul, and after that, I tossed the pooches in the car and we drove off for our daily constitutional.
As I pulled out of the driveway, something didn't look right. I didn't know what it was, specifically, only that something in the landscape seemed awry. I shrugged it off and took the mutts for their romp in Winter Wonderland, and then, just as I returned to my driveway, I realized what was wrong: My mailbox was missing.
I put the dogs in the house and went back out and checked the snowbank. Sure enough, my mailbox was nowhere in sight. Obviously, sometime during the night, the plow had nailed it. Less obvious was where it was now.
I looked left and right, high and low, and found neither hide nor hair nor little red flag. Clearly, that sucker was buried somewhere under the banks, but where that somewhere was, I had no idea.
That the snowplow had trashed my mailbox didn't bother me at all: Its demise and interment were long overdue. Its door had fallen off, what wasn't rusted was rotted, and its post was about as stable as Mel Gibson.
But what did bother me was the nagging question of where the box was. And thus I started digging in the snowbank. I started where the box had last stood. Nada. After that, I dug to the left. More nada. Then I dug to the right; next, in back of where it was; then in front. Then further up and down the road; then I repeated the process, digging down to road level. And still no mailbox.
Finally, after a maniacal hour-and-a-half, I gave up and did the only thing I could: I went to Aubuchon's, bought a new mailbox and put it in the other's place.
As for my old mailbox? For all I know, right now it's five miles west of Tupper and on its way to Cranberry Lake.
And good riddance to it, I say.
The only thing is this: If you spot on the side of the road a blue mailbox with two dancing skeletons painted on it, you can keep the bills, The Pennysaver and the Rent-A-Vision promos.
Just send me all the checks.