Dan Szczesny has a lot to be thankful for this year, including a 10 horsepower, 24 inch, two-stage snowblower.
I’m heading home with a giant snow blower in the back of the Forester.
It barely fits. In fact, in order to make it fit, my brother-in-law had to perform what I call mechanical magic tricks; unscrew this, take off that, fold down the other thing. The machine is a monster, a 10 horse power job that’s way too big for our meager urban drive. In fact, the width of the shovel section of the blower won’t even fit across our walkway.
So, what am I doing with this 300-pound snow blower crammed into my Subaru, speeding down the New York State Thruway, smelling like oil and steel? And what does this have to do with Thanksgiving you’re likely asking?
Well, I’ll begin with my brother-in-law, who has an embarrassing, and seemingly endless, wealth of talents. I don’t mean he can sing opera or perform a perfect cabriole. No, his talents are far more practical and constructive, and I sometimes hate him for it. He’s a electrician I think. Or he puts up walls and roofs. He might be a plumber, or a carpenter. Actually, it seems he does all those things.
For example, we’ll be getting the snow blower into my car and he’ll say things like, “Hey, hand me my chrome-vanadium metric, wrench kit” which will cause me to freeze and stare and consider making a break for it. “The combination wrench,” he says trying to make it easier for my puny brain to understand. Usually, such an exchange will end with him saying “Hold this,” and I’ll stand there holding the whatever-it-is-we’re-working-on and he goes and gets the proper tool.
My father, a man of mixed emotions, both never wanted me to make a living with my hands, and at the same time was bitterly disappointed that I didn’t know the difference between a carburetor and a clutch. There are many men (and women) in my life who can fix a sink without having to find videos on YouTube. I am not one of those people. My wife is, as is my brother-in-law.
Generally, this isn’t a problem, but now with the two tweens running about the house and my wife pregnant, my inability to build anything but a sentence has been a source of some friction and frustration. So, as my brother-in-law unscrewed and folded and measured the snow blower to get it into the car, I resolved to be able to figure out how to get it back out and put it back together when I got home. A high bar? No. But a first step on the path to handyman-ness.
So, fast forward to my driveway. We have never owned a snow-blower, mainly because we have a small urban lot and we like the exercise of snow shoveling. But this year is different. It will likely be December when my wife goes into labor, and I want that walkway and driveway to be clean and snow free all winter. When my wife says, “I’m going into labor,” I don’t want my response to be, “Ok, let me shovel the driveway.”
When my father moved into my sister’s house, they doubled up on a lot of things, a snow blower was one of them. My brother-in-law had no use for two snow blowers so it was offered to us, as long as I could come get it. Thus, on the week before Thanksgiving I stood in my driveway, feeling as grateful as I’d ever had for the snow blower, yes. But also, because of the amazing amount of gifts and support and food that have come pouring in. Having a baby does that I guess, makes people generous. Or maybe people are just always that way toward those they love. Or maybe they just need to clean out their garages.
At any rate, I did manage, slowly, to put that snow blower back together. I had to draw my wife a picture of the wrench I needed, which of course she had. But if not for my liberal arts education, perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to draw that picture to begin with, so there’s that.
Now, when the snow flies, I’ll be thankful for my brother-in-law, and my dad and sister. I’ll be thankful for everyone’s patience mainly, as I learn how to build things, and cook, and then, change diapers. I’ll be thankful when my in-laws arrive for a few weeks to take some pressure off us, and I’ll be extra thankful when their being here will allow me to get a couple hours of sleep once the baby arrives.
And when the time comes to get everyone to the hospital safely, I’ll be thankful for the time and effort and struggle of getting that snow-blower to my house. Of course, I’ll have to go to YouTube to figure out how to turn it on.