Manly Tips 6: Man vs. Nature

December 9, 2009

We were just nailed with our first big snowstorm of the season. Actually, it was our first snowfall. Yeah, I live in Canada, but this year was odd, weather-wise. We had no snow in November or early December, but we paid the price today.

It started around 4 a.m., just as I was getting home from a top-secret mission. By mid-morning, we had 18 inches of heavy, damp snow. And by mid-afternoon, this had all turned to ice as the snow became sleet, then rain.

You might think this is bad news. I don’t. It meant I got to go into the garage and use oil, grease, gas and fuel additives to bring back to life my favourite manly accessory: my snowblower. It’s big, it’s old and it’s loud, and when I fire it up for the first time each winter, it belches horrible black smoke and sounds like attack helicopters closing in. I’d like to rig it to play Flight of the Valkyries, because my snowblower brings shock and awe to the war on Old Man Winter.

  • Note: My comic-book collecting friend Patrick calls my snowblower my Giant-Sized Man-Thing. This is a comics reference, but most people don’t get that.

This is a dangerous device. It’s self-powered; I have to put it in gear (six forward, plus reverse) and use dual hand controls to drive it and control the massive, grinding augers that chew into the ice and sludgy snow. You need muscles to work my snowblower; in fact, you need big iron pipes like mine. It doesn’t steer. It just plows, and it’s up to its operator to keep it from taking off and destroying passing vehicles, or ripping into the asshole’s house across the road.

We didn’t get much snow last year, so I wasn’t able to use my snowblower very often. The year before that (when that photo up there was taken, on New Year’s Day 2008) we had a seriously snowy winter, so I was able to use it every other day or so. And I liked that, because when I use my snowblower, I gear up like I’m about to appear on American Gladiators. Big boots, protective snow pants, my old OPP patrol parka, thick hat, ski goggles, armoured gloves … I play Led Zeppelin on my iPod (The Immigrant Song is a good one) as I kick winter’s ass.

Anyway, I was happy to be out there again today. I had to clear our 120-foot driveway twice, actually, because we had a second blast of wet snow after supper. We had our driveway redone last month, so it’s a dream to clear: smooth, flat and quick. I came in sore, aching, cold and exhausted, like a Roman Legionnaire after battle, like a Samurai after war, and had a nice cup of green tea shot of rye and a cigar, happy knowing that I beat winter once again.



  1. That is one manly device sir. The best I can muster is a Lawn-Boy and an electric leaf blower.

    I am jealous.

    • Mowing the lawn is hard, dirty, sweaty work, even if you have a riding mower. Snowblowing is fast and furious. You are right to be jealous.

  2. The first firing of the snow blower is the most important – I must say that in the third year of my Man machine’s life I got the black smoke and the helicopters. I couldn’t find the part in the manual that said how often the oil should be changed but I’m thinking every 10 years, right?

  3. I like how it’s got a headlight on it, but it shines not on the path ahead, but on the engine. “Fuck where we’re going, just feast your eyes on my Briggs and Stratton might!” it seems to say. I don’t often lament the absence of snow in my life, but using a Giant Sized Man Thing sounds like fun.

  4. The top-secret mission was a late-night cheeseburger run.

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