I plugged the diesel tractor in, anticipating Wednesday’s snow, but once Wednesday rolled around and the snow got to half a foot, the tractor said, “Sorry, I’m not going to start anyway.”

Shortly after that, one of the snow shovels broke.

Maggie and Boy Unit had cleared the front of the driveway while my fingers and foot started to freeze.

I went in the house and sat by the stove.

When I came back out, the handle on the other shovel was broken.

After that, I went to town through the snowstorm, driving Maggie’s little car.

I had not planned on going out. I had actually planned against it. But a snow shovel was needed.

On the way down, I saw that someone had slid off the road and broke a telephone pole. That’s how bad it was.

When I got to town, I stopped at the auto parts store and asked the owner, Tom, if he could put new windshield wipers on Maggie’s car. Then I went to Stewart’s, since the hardware store wasn’t open, and bought a snow shovel.

As far as I can tell, Tom’s store is always open, no matter what. Several people stopped while I was there. They all had small difficulties to deal with, just like me.

After getting back home, I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening keeping up with the snow, using good old muscle power and a snow shovel.

So the tractor doesn’t work. Big deal.

I figure Maggie, even though she’s kind of dinky, is worth at least one tractor. Her grandmother referred to her as “strong like bull.”

It’s a good thing, too. Living here is not for those lacking strength and stamina.

In recent years, since mysteriously becoming a Type 1 diabetic, I have been the one who is most likely to run out of steam.

It is only in the last several months that I have started to feel like myself again. Although I am not the power house I once was, I can at least keep up with the day without feeling as if I’m trying to drag a broken-down Volkswagen around with me.

The thing is, I’ve gotten so used to being grumpy about my physical condition that I am often surprised at how good I actually feel.

Shoveling snow isn’t so bad if you go out frequently and keep up with it.

I know one guy who keeps his bar’s whole parking lot clear with two snow shovels, one in each hand. He walks back and forth like a human snowplow throughout storms, not letting the snow get ahead of him.

I’ve heard more than one of his customers who drive a snowplow say, “We tell him he’s making us look bad doing all that work without us.”

Doing a little at a time consistently, before a task or job becomes daunting, is pretty much the secret to success in all fields.

It works in school. It works in business. It works with chores. The rule can pretty much be applied to any goal-oriented activity.

Don’t worry if you want to stay ahead of the pack. Most people can’t keep up the repetitive work necessary, even if it’s not that hard. I don’t know why.

When morning arrived with the bird and rooster songs, the driveway was clear. The juncos could get to bits of cracked corn on the walkway. The cars could get out onto the road, and no one was late for work or school.

The tractor, on the other hand, sat buried under a foot of snow feeling guilty for not contributing at least a little to the previous day’s labors.

Forrest Hartley lives in Hadley, mostly taking it easy. You can leave him a message at new_americangothic@yahoo.com.


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