Sunday, January 31, 2016
It was the first significant snowfall of the season; 10 inches or so, here in Lexington Township. The day following the storm was full of bright sunshine but the thermometer registered only in the teens and it was extremely windy. That’s not the optimum climate for plowing from the back of a tractor but that’s a chore that needs to be done, regardless of the weather.
I dug out my winter ‘combat gear’ and trudged through the snow to the tractor shed. In the winter we typically back the Kubota into its spot so that we can plow our way out. However, we’d been working on firewood the last time Steven used it and when he parked it at the end of the day, he drove straight into the shed. No big deal. I could certainly drive over 10 inches of snow and back-drag or plow it away from the doorway.
I climbed aboard Lena. (I like to call her by name, as I’ve discovered her plugs really glow when she’s given that small courtesy.) Once her diesel engine was purring, I backed out of the tractor shed and began plowing the driveways. I always start with the ‘wing wall’ so that we can move our vehicles out of the way. Once I’ve pushed and dumped the snow that the county truck has thrown up along the sides of the road, I then tackle the front yard.
The first plowing of the season is the one I like the least…especially when the ground hasn’t frozen solid first; as was the case this year. We plow across our front lawn. When pushing snow across a grassy, loamy unfrozen surface, bad things can happen. I’ve been known to plow UP portions of the front lawn once or twice, depositing large rectangles of sod in the snow banks I created. Those all have to be retrieved in the spring and -- like working a jigsaw puzzle -- it’s always a challenge trying to figure out where each piece fits. Equally challenging is the task of keeping a pleasant smile on my face while I listen to my husband comment (for the umpteenth time) how much nicer the lawn would look without those dastardly divots interspersed throughout!
Thirty minutes into the plowing job, I noticed a distinct sound that was separate from Lena’s contented grumble. As I raised the bucket high and dumped the snow atop a swiftly growing pile, I heard a metallic clinking noise…and as my eyes darted to the right I saw the tail-end of a heavy chain, right before it disappeared -- dumped, along with the snow, into the snow bank.
Shoot! A chain in the bucket? I hadn’t even looked! What else had been left there? More chains? Tools? A jug of gas? Bar and chain oil? A birch hook? Files? Maybe even…Steven’s chainsaw??
Each of these was a possibility and I mentally reprimanded myself for not thinking to walk to the front of the tractor and CHECK the bucket before I began plowing. I knew how often Steven carried tools in that bucket after packing up after a day’s work in the woods or fields! If he thinks he’s going to be using them ‘soon’, he leaves them close-by. I should have known there might be something in that bucket!
I put Lena in neutral, set the brake and lowered the boom before climbing the snow bank, where I dug around until I found the chain. I finally glanced into the bucket. Empty. I didn’t know if that was good…or bad. If there’d only been one chain in the bucket, then there was no harm done. But if that bucket had been brimming with expensive and/or hard-to-replace items, then I had a problem.
I looked up towards the house. I counted five huge mounds of snow that could contain any number of tools and equipment. My mind’s eye captured an image of a blissfully ignorant ME, driving back and forth over an expensive Stihl or Jonsereds chainsaw…its engine compartment buckling, bar bending, chain teeth flying in all directions. I pictured driving over a saw file and puncturing a high-priced tire. I imagined the mess and potential environmental harm of dumping (and possibly splitting open) a can of fuel.
There were no visible signs of any other tools in the regions where I’d plowed. There was nothing I could do except finish the cold and monotonous chore. I wasn’t looking forward to asking Steven what treasures he’d had stored in Lena’s bucket, once he returned home from work.
Hopefully, he’d notice what a fine job I’d done in the driveway, first.
Thankfully, the chainsaw and files were safely stored. The gas cans were all accounted for. Steven noted that two chains, including his largest, were missing. This distressed him. He took Eli’s metal detector outside and hunted through all my snow banks, searching for those huge and heavy chains – which SURELY must have been hard NOT to see or hear when I was dumping them…or so he surmised.
No luck. The metal detector was useless. Those chains were just as quiet for Steven as they had been for me.
“Well,” said I, the eternal optimist. “We’ll find them in the spring!”
Steven believes we’ll hear them THEN, for sure -- when they’re hit with the blade of a riding mower.