blossoms bloom in Belleville Park,
it’s time to put away the snow blower.
But this year, things
When cherry blossoms bloom in Belleville
Park, it’s time to put away the snow blower. Usually by this
time of April, in Belleville and Nutley, we watch the falling
cherry blossoms and think, oh, they’re like little pink
snowflakes. But this year, things have changed. We predict snow
falling just once more.
Can anyone blame us? It seems like we’ve
endured the winter of “Dr. Zhivago” here in the Northeast. Don’t
bother me with the old, “We’ve had worse winters with more snow.”
That’s all ancient history. What matters is
right here, right now. Will it snow again before the May flowers
This was the winter we finally made up our mind
that we were going to do it. Yup, this was going to be the year of
the snow blower for us. Too bad we dallied when we should have
dillied. We got hit with the first snow storm before we made it to
the store. As soon as we recovered from shoveling, and clearing our
driveway apron a few times, we headed to the nearby big box store.
It was easy to spot the snow blower section. It
was the rows of empty racks with little picture cards of what snow
blowers would look like if they had any in stock. Stealthily, we
eavesdropped as the man in the orange apron explained to a befuddled
snow-shoveler the subtle differences between the petite, sissy snow
throwers, and the humongous, super-charged blowers that will toss
snow over your rooftop onto the path of that annoying neighbor so
he’ll think it’s still snowing.
As soon as that dolt shuffled off, it was our
turn to be tutored. The man in the orange apron patiently went
through the differences between the wimpy and the walloping snow
You got your sizes: 21″, 24″, 28″, 30″. You got
your stages: Single-stage, gas-quick, chute snow blower; two-stage,
electric-start gas, and three-stage, electric-start gas. You got
your accessories: heated handle, shear pin kit, clean-out spade
tool, silicone lubricant, snow blower cover, engine additive – fuel
stabilizer, oil – synthetic, gasoline, and a heavy-duty,
And while we actually began to understand what
he was saying, in the end, there were none in the store. He
suggested we order online.
We hadn’t been that excited tracking a delivery
in 33 years. This time they delivered it to our door. The crates go
to a local service shop for assembly, and then delivery to eager new
parents, er, owners. We have to say the guy was thorough explaining
everything from the forward speeds, reverse, chute direction, on-off
switch, pump-primer, pull cord, and where the extra shear pins were
for when our big blade tries to throw the ice block of our
Dang. We couldn’t wait for it to snow. And so
Dang. We couldn’t wait for it to stop snowing.
For years, whenever it snowed, we’d wait until
our neighbor finished snow blowing his walks, then he’d hand it off,
still running. He moved down the Shore last year, and we couldn’t
really expect him to bring his snow blower up, and clear the snow
for the new owner, now, could we? They were nice neighbors, but,
apparently, not that nice.
The perception is that a snow blower makes
clearing snow easy and fun. And you’ll be so popular with your
neighbors when you do their walks because, no, you’re not a nice
guy, you haven’t figured how to stop, and turn around, so you go all
the way around the block.
The reality is that it’s more like plowing the
south 40 acres behind an ornery mule. It’s great on a straight run,
but try turning that baby, or backing up, or squeaking past the cars
parked in the driveway. Not to mention the trudge across the deep
snow to the storage shed to get out a shovel to clear out the
doorway to get the snow blower out to start it. Yikes.
And don’t forget the fun clearing the driveway
apron over and over with each pass of the town plow. We’re sure the
plows carry an additive that makes apron snow heavier, colder and
wetter than real snow anywhere else.
After several snow falls, we’d worn a path
through the snow to the shed. Our technique in clearing apron snow
has been nominated for an award for our precision directing the
chute to toss across our cleared walk, and create a four-foot
decorative berm on our lawn.
Sure, we’ve had worse winters. One winter
started so early the autumn leaves weren’t cleared until March along
with the wooden-stick deer and Santa ornaments on our lawn. That was
then. This is now. When this last spring snow falls, we’ll be right
over to do your walk. As soon as we remember how to start this
First published April 2014, in
Write Side of 50
Hold the Flowers. It Might Snow.
Copyright © 2014 by Anthony Buccino
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New Jersey author Anthony Buccino's stories of
the 1960s, transit coverage and other writings earned four Society
of Professional Journalists Excellence in Journalism awards.
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