It's so cold that I just put Mr. Peabody down for Daily Nap Number One wearing his COAT. We'd been out takin' Bean to preschool and he'd fallen asleep in his car seat (The wonders, they are unceasing!) and when I went to transfer him to his crib, I moved to unzip and remove his little fleecy jacket and was met with that unmistakeable NO MAMA! I COZY! squirm. So off to bed he went, dressed for 40°. (It's not 40° in here though, it's at least 55°.)
I did take off the hood. Even though it has little bear ears on it and I wanted to leave it on in the worst possible way.
Last night I did sumpm I've never done before and LAND O' MERCY I hope none of my neighbors were lookin' out the window because if they were, I've been the butt end of many a joke up and down the street for goin' on 18 hours now.
I, Megan FriedOkra, up and dragged out the YardMachine 21" Electric Start Snowblower. Normally when the timing of a snowfall requires me to clear the decks, I just drag out my trusty shovel and do it the old fashioned (and less deafening) way. I'm a Luddite like that. Not into the big, loud machines. But last night it was COLD. And windy. And still snowing so hard I couldn't've seen my hand in front of my face had it been on fire. And it nearly was, but I'll get to that later.
And I had Bean out there with me. In the dark, in the driving snow. With her little sand pail and shovel. Helping. And while I know that girl has a will of steel because I've come up against it a time or two thousand, I also recognize that there is only so much frostbite she can stand before she waves the rigidly frozen white flag and begs to go back inside.
Time was of the essence, and with the wind blowing about 75% of every shovelful back exactly where it had been as I lifted it off the driveway, I recognized that now was not the time to play Mama against The Machine. Now was the time to embrace technology and make it work for me.
So, I painstakingly wrangled the somewhat intimidating machine out of the corner at the front of the garage and I bent WAY down, which was no small feat thanks to all the layers I had piled on in preparation for my mission, and looked at the Preparing and Operating This Machine label, with a combination of trepidation and completely unfounded confidence.
And the directions were clear enough, but of course I couldn't see any of the labeled parts because it was dark and the wind whipped a snoot-full of snow into my eyes every time I turned my head even 1% to the Northeast. What I was able to glean by reading on the label and looking about for the corresponding part on the control panel was that this snowblower? She's just a lawnmower that mows ice.
And me and lawnmowers have been around the block a time or two. Almost literally!
So, my ridiculously ironically stupidly unfounded confidence bolstered EVEN THAT MUCH HIGHER, I plugged the electric start cord into the outlet in my garage, I turned the key, flipped the choke and pressed the starter button. And whaddaya know? She started RIGHT UP.
And I kid you not, my child, who at the young age of FOUR is already intimately familiar with her mother's total ineptitude in almost every area of life but particularly when it comes to machinery, sent up a HUGE RALLY CRY and then wisely threw her shovel and bucket far out onto the lawn and hoofed it for all she was worth into the garage, where she hid behind my truck, peeking her sweet little pink-hooded head around occasionally to check my progress, or more likely to assure her own safety.
And I was off down the driveway like a shot, people. Snow chuffed out the top of the blower and out into the darkness as I trotted, and a feeling of invincibility spread over my soul. I clodded heavily in my boots after the red beast, blasting snow to the left of me, jetting it to the right of me, and occasionally showering it upon my own head. (It's still me, you know, no reason to expect TOO much here.)
Before long, the driveway was all but cleared of its 6" covering and I, fueled by the euphoria of gas fumes and domination, eyed the sidewalks with a cavalier toss of my chin. NO SWEAT! I breathed aloud. TAKE ME 3 MORE MINUTES. 4 MORE, TOPS.
Bean, red-faced and shivering, recognized my determined look and begged me to reconsider, MAMA, I'M SO CHILLYYYYYYYYYYYYY! CAN WE PLEASE GO BACK INSIDE NOW AND HAVE SOME HOT COCOA?
Ah, no, I thought. No child of mine is going to watch me stop when the job's half done. And I waved my hand at her and told her I'd be done in no time.
And off I went up the front walkway to the stoop - zhip, zhop, zhoop, alldone! And I swiped over the public sidewalk behind the mailbox - zwish! And then I crossed the driveway for my final victory lap up and down the longer stretch of sidewalk behind the parkway trees. FRRRRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOW! One swath up, one swath back, and I'd completed the entire snow removal task in about 15 or 20 minutes.
I was high, y'all. HIGH AS AN EVERLOVIN' KITE.
Until I looked back behind me.
And what I saw back there is still burned into my retinas and my brain matter and will remain there for many long years.
I looked back and spied the pretty, sparkling Christmas lights all aglow on those two parkway trees. And then, there, on the ground over which I'd just ruggedly and forcibly ground a gigantic and sharp rotary blade, I spied the electric cords that led from our house to those trees.
I had just run a gas-filled, snow-covered piece of heavy machinery WITH A ROTARY BLADE OVER LIVE ELECTRICAL WIRES.
And I had averted certain sizzling, explosive death. Which in retrospect I suppose should have given me a further rush, but it didn't. My knees grew weak and I began to sweat profusely, as I choked out, Okay Bean, we're all done, let's go back inside now. My heart in my throat, I helped her off with her boots and coat and removed my own, fingers trembling such that it took me several attempts to undo every zipper.
I finally calmed down a bit later, enough to serve the dinner and get the kids in bed, and then I crawled into bed myself. Hours later I awoke from a dream in which I'd happened upon Oprah and her friend Gail in my neighborhood and gone to a Christmas concert at the Atlanta Civic Center with them in Oprah's tricked-out deuce-and-a-quarter.
And I have no idea how near death by a snow blower translates to a dream about Oprah, but I will say that the whole time I was hangin' with her, I kept thinking to myself that her hair certainly was uncharacteristically frizzy that day.