It’s that time of year when I start to look at my red Troy-Bilt snow blower with renewed interest and a bit of fondness. We’ve been through a lot together, venturing out into the sometimes bitter, ear-numbing cold whiteness with a single mindedness unmatched by any other machine I own, except, perhaps, the lawn mower.
Big Red might look rather benign, but when she is fired up and that clutch is engaged, we can take on the world, or at least my driveway and sidewalk, and maybe the neighbor’s.
She gives me the confidence I need to laugh at blizzard predictions, and to go to sleep and not worry about what drifts face me in the morning.
I remember when she rolled off the truck when I brought her home a few years ago. She was nothing but hopes and dreams back then. My dream was to get my driveway cleared in less than a half-hour, and my hope was that Mother Nature would at least provide the snow.
Well, I didn’t have to wait long that winter because it seemed we got storm after storm. I felt vindicated on making such an investment, and from then on, we were friends.
A few weeks ago, I remembered that the slide shoes on the bottom where the hood meets the ground have to be adjusted. I noticed the last time I used it that they were worn.
I have a spare pair of the slide bars in the garage that I picked up when I bought the machine. At the time, I didn’t know how long they would last and figured it would not be an item I would want to be scrounging for when the snow is drifting and the roads are impassable.
I also have a few other spare parts, which I have learned from experience, should be purchased when the machine is new. For a few dollars more at the point of sale, it’s worthwhile.
Anyway, Big Red was one of the best investments that I have ever made. I can’t imagine facing my snow-covered sidewalks and driveway without it.
And that’s good because the 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting that Old Man Winter is going to be especially frosty this year. It’s calling for bitter cold and heavy snow. I know, we have heard it all before, but it must be true if it’s published in the Almanac, right?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac is touted as being North America’s oldest continuously published periodical. It says, “A decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic will result in below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall during most of the winter across much of the United States.”
The publication warns people to unpack their sweaters and snow shovels early so that they will be ready when the weather turns a bit chilly.
Sweaters, you say? I recently purchased a merino wool shirt that can be worn under the layers of clothing I will need to keep me warm this winter. Merino wool is a great material, and I am looking forward to trying it out. I saw it on sale in August, and since I like to look ahead, I thought why not. I will thank myself later! And that was before I learned of the almanac’s prediction.
Well, not to be outdone, the other farmer’s almanac also jumped on the bandwagon and is calling for a cold, frosty and wet winter across the United States, especially in New England.
It is also specifically predicting snowstorms during the week of the Super Bowl. That could be a concern because the game will be played outdoors on Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.
I don’t give too much credence to such weather predictions because even the local weather people have trouble coming up with an accurate forecast more than three days out. Trying to predict what will happen several months away is rather foolish, regardless of how much you claim to be accurate.
Last year, the almanac predicted it would be cold in the East, when it wasn’t very cold at all. We had a mild winter. Big Red only made it out of the garage maybe three or four times, and three of those times was out of pity. I could have cleared the driveway by hand, but I figured she needed to run.
In a few weeks, I will fill up the fuel container for my machine and set it aside. I will adjust the slide shoes and start Big Red to make sure she will run properly, and then I will sit back and wait to see if any of the predictions come true.
Go ahead, Old Man Winter. Give it your best shot.
Once again, Big Red and I will be waiting for you.
David Smith is the editor of The Sun’s weekly publications. This is his personal opinion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.