Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Blizzard Etiquette

(This post is dedicated to my current and former neighbors who flee all this for sunny climes either short term or for good.  You know who you are.)

Wisconsin.  January.  Periodically the Elements conspire against you.  One week it is bitter cold.  The next week a thick blanket of snow.  Some weeks both.  

We are not as tough as the pioneers who settled the frontier.  They were enduring all this in log cabins and while wearing itchy woolen garments that probably did not get washed until Spring. But a bit of the pioneer spirit lingers on; in this place, and at this time of year neighbors have to help each other out.

There are of course Unwritten Rules.  As a retired guy with a snowblower I have the ability to get out and clear snow on a very flexible schedule.  My own does not take long.  But what about Other People's Snow?

The sidewalk that runs the length of the block is fair game.  We all want the postman to be able to get through.  Here is "Boreas" my faithful machine, having just cleared it down to a slip free cement surface.

On the other hand, plowing from that sidewalk up to people's front doors would seem a bit presumptuous....that is their individual property, not the collective Commons.

But what to do about this situation?

Here a homesteader's earlier snow removal efforts have been foiled by the city snow plows which go along and, in the necessary task of clearing the roads, throw up big ramparts of ice and chunky style snow.  As  you can see, people's recycling bins get entombed.  So do the entrances to drive ways and the place where sidewalks meet the street.  The etiquette here is a little trickier.

Keeping the sidewalks clear to the streets follows the same rules as above.  So I plowed out the two corners on my side.  Going around to the other two corners on the back side of the block would be showing up my neighbors, and as such a bit of bad form.  Unless of course you have elderly neighbors on the back corners.  Or you know they are out of town.  I am not the only person on the block with a snow blower and it would not do to deprive others of an opportunity for minor service to the community. 

Clearing at least one end of the alley is a high priority.  Otherwise anything short of a monster truck is not going to be able to negotiate that last crucial two feet that will get them onto the city street and off to work.

Recycling bins are a tough call.  It would not do for a person to miss the every two week opportunity to get rid of empty cans and bottles.  If you know a neighbor well enough to not be shocked or curious about how many clinking empties you have to move to get the way clear for the recycling truck, go ahead.  If you don't know them that well, best not to.

That's better.

Anthropologists could study the ways of this little snow bound tribe for quite some time.  I have for instance not addressed the touchy matter of how soon to start plowing.  You want to wait long enough for the precipitation to stop.  No sense having to plow twice.  But if you wait too long the other members of the clan might beat you to it, the whine of their motors starting up a gentle rebuke to your by-the-hearth sloth.  

Another blizzard dealt with.  One step closer to spring.  I hang up my snow dusted coveralls until the next round.

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