WILSON: Winter warriors

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 6000’s — the ultimate weapon in snow 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 all of Harry’s neighbors were united in their 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, the heartiest of the snow warriors continued to endure the elements and gathered along the street at the end of their drives, to open nominations for the “Big Chucker” awards — featuring 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 Carhardtt bib 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 was Harry was prone to complaining about snow, cold and any particularly nasty winter weather (it’s called “winter” for a reason, Harry — get over it, already).

“You still on a diet?” asked Mort, 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 — a box 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 the engine on his Snow Chucker, and took a sip from his cup of “Taster’s Choice Winter Blend” instant coffee (Jimmy’s snow chucker had an optional microwave for making hot water instead of a single cup coffee maker — he’s just different that way).

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

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

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

Larry Wilson is a mostly lifelong resident of Niles. His essays stem from experiences, compilations and recollections from friends and family. He can be reached at wflw@hotmail.com

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