Thursday, December 10, 2009

Michigan Blows!

Why, I mean snow and leaves, of course! In the midst of this great and mighty blizzard -- well, OK, so really during a moment of calm, but after many inches of snow had fallen -- I went for a walk in the piles of snow. Since this Grand Rapids neighborhood has many cute and charming houses, which are necessarily cuter and more charming when decorated with Christmas lights and covered/surrounded by snow, my walk had all the makings of a lovely wintry early evening stroll. EXCEPT, there were neighbors about who were taking advantage of the lull in the snowfall to clear driveways and sidewalks. With snow blowers.

I mean, the whole snow blowing thing looks cool and all, with the spray of snow shooting up and out, but it's just not, well, pleasant. Noisy, and polluting, too, yes? And, on my walk, at one point I had to deviate from the sidewalk -- which, though covered in snow, you could tell was the sidewalk because its snow was slightly lower than the foot-high piles to the left (yard) and right (strip of grass between sidewalk and street). I had to leave the sidewalk because a man was blowing snow from his sidewalk, a loud little machine growling its way through the snow, straight at me. I walked into the road, also covered in snow, but snow that was flattened by cars of course. And right across the street, there was a neighbor clearing her sidewalk, but with a shovel. I smiled. I think I made a political choice to walk on her shovel-cleared sidewalk rather than his machine-blown.

This bugged me all fall with the leaves, too. There I would be on a happy midday run, the autumn sun twinkling through the spaces between the red and golden leaves, and then I'd hear it, the roaring whine of the leaf blowers. Rake! Rake! Rake! I wanted to shout.

Do I think people are lazy? Why yes, yes I do. Now, I know what you'll say. We're busy. We have so many things to do, like spoil our kids and drive them everywhere, and order take-out, and watch television. We don't have time to rake leaves and shovel snow. Boooo! Besides, one-fifth of Michigan is unemployed, so there should be plenty of people with free time. Ha! Even when there's no recession, though, I am dismayed by the nasty polluting snow blowing and especially the leaf blowers. Furthermore, I don't really remember seeing, or rather hearing, them in Boston ever. I suppose there was less driveway and yard space where I lived in Medford, with older New England homes closer together, than here in this tree-y/grassy modern neighborhood. But all I saw there were shovelers. So, ugh. We are a sedentary society, we are unhealthy, and we are fat. Turn off your television and go shovel some snow, people. And if you are too old/sick/frail, then pay someone who is unemployed ten dollars to do it. Or whatever the going rate is. Or don't live in Michigan in the first place, there's an idea. Besides, that woman was shoveling the snow from her sidewalk while the man across the street blew his from his sidewalk, so who's got the upper body strength now, huh?

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