Winter warriors unite

Published 9:18 am Thursday, January 21, 2016

Winter had hit, and nearly every able-bodied (and some not-so-able-bodied) guy in Harrison Winkle’s neighborhood charged down their driveways armed with snow shovels and competing versions of Snow Chucker 6000s the ultimate in “accumulation removal” (32” intake, 12’ adjustable exhaust blast, 17 HP engine, 12 speeds forward, six speeds in reverse, four all-terrain tires, wrap-around wind screen with wiper warmers, radiant heat, and a single-cup coffee maker).

It was the first major snowfall of the season and the neighbors were united in the joint mission to completely eradicate the accrual of frozen precipitation (and, yes, brag about whose tool was the most powerful, blew the farthest, and finished fastest.). At the end of a job well done, most of the snow fighters gathered along the street, at the end of their drives, to open nominations for award categories such as “Cleanest Drive,” “Fastest Clear-off,” and “Least Amount of Complaints About Back-Pain” (neither Harry nor Jimmy had ever won in this category).

“You know what I like about this weather?” asked Harry, as he brushed off his Carhardt coveralls and kicked the snow from the treads of his Wolverine boots.

“Nothing that can be printed in the New York Times?” answered Jimmy, knowing full well that Harry was quick to complain about snow, cold, and typically nasty winter weather (it’s called “winter” for a reason — get over it, already).

“You still on a diet?” asked Dru, Harry’s neighbor to the north. Harry had been on a few fad diets since the onset of “porker season” (starting at Thanksgiving, running through Christmas, and culminating with Super Bowl Sunday). He tried the All-Bran with prune juice diet — referring to it as his “free-flow” diet. He also dabbled with only eating fruit for breakfast — any fruit, as long as it was covered with sausage gravy. Currently, he is on the “thin-mint” diet — two boxes of Girl Scout Thin-Mint Cookies, every day, for a month (Harry figured it’s great for the Girl Scouts and anything with the word “thin” in it must be good for him, too).

“Yep, still on the diet thing,” responded Harry over the idling thunder of his snow chucker. “I haven’t gained a pound in the last two weeks!” Harry was pleased with the moral victory “small steps” (that resemble just standing still).

“The weather forecast is calling for more lake effect, tonight,” yelled Jimmy, as he throttled back his engine and took a sip from his cup of “Taster’s Choice Winter Blend” instant coffee (his snow chucker had an optional microwave for making hot water instead of a single cup coffee maker — Jimmy is just different that way).

“I’ve heard it may be as much as six inches,” grumbled Firewalker as he polished the chrome stacks on his snow chucker (NASCAR version).

The conversation continued on for several minutes, as each one contributed their share of commentary on weather forecasts, snow chucker accessories, and competitive back-pain reports. Just as the conversation and temperature had started to drop to undesirable levels, the snowplow truck pushed through, barricading the terminus of each drive with a frozen wall of (further description unprintable — you’ve been there, fill in the blank).

Once more, the street roared to life as shovels scraped, engines rumbled, and snow flew farther and faster than swear words and back-pain complaints.


Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His optimistic “glass full to overflowing” view of life shapes his writing. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. Wilson touts himself as “a dubiously licensed teller of tall tales, sworn to uphold the precept of ‘It’s my story; that’s the way I’m telling it.’” He can be reached at