Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Snow chaos -- someplace else
We don't do snow chaos in Maine. Snow is a fact of life here. So it's always amusing to look down on the lower 47, or the poor old yUKe, whenever we see headlines like "Snow chaos stalls Capital," or the like.
Today's Guardian was no disappointment in that regard. Several inches have fallen in London, which gets hardly any snow in a normal year. Eight inches generally doesn't stop anything in Maine. It takes twelve or fourteen to get a snow day. We might get a delayed start to the school day if it all dumps in the early morning. But we have a massive public and private infrastructure to deal with all this white stuff.
The budget of Jackson Town, pop 900 or less, for instance, is more than 50% snow removal and sand and salt purchase. The town keeps several guys to drive massive plow trucks with massive sand spreaders, and we can have all our roads clear of an eight-inch snow fall in a couple hours, this despite the fact that we have a couple hundred miles of town roads. I expect there are towns of several thousand in rural England that don't have half the endowment of money, men and materials we keep on hand for this job.
I say men. This is definitely a man thing. I can count the number of women I've seen driving snow removal equipment in Maine on one hand. There must be a gene on the Y chromosome that codes for the snow moving instinct.
It's a macho thing, believe me. Aimee says that any woman you see driving a plow truck is most likely to be single, because if she got married the [stupid] husband would take it over.
Then there's the private equipment. Any "real" man worth his salt in Maine has some kind of snow-moving equipment, even if it's just a 4 by 4 truck with a "toy" plow. Snow blowers are the cheapest way to go. For me, our '73 Kubota 4 by 4 compact tractor does all I need and more. Although it takes more time than neighbor Hamilton's Dodge 4 by 4 plow truck with the full size blade, it can actually bucket lift snow up high, or from one place to another, which is needed as the stuff piles up.
What this means is, Maine can get one, one-and-a-half, two, even three feet snowstorms five, six or seven times a year, but it generally only takes a couple hours of daylight to open up the roads and get everyone moving again. Even so, we still close the schools and the college. It's not worth the trouble and danger of the drive, and when I was the college official who had to call the snow day, I would always think of the poor old tires on the poor old college students cars and trucks, and err on the side of safety.
Besides, we need the rest after moving all that snow. A snow day is a restful, peaceful blessing. Pure white Zen.
So all these Londoners should take it easy. They'll be back to slaving away soon enough.