After fifteen minutes careful consideration while lying in bed this morning, I think I figured it out. Before I tell you what "it" is, we need to back up a bit.
It was few weeks ago, in early November, when the snow arrived. I was warned of the snowstorm a few days in advance, so the Saturday prior I participated in the Annual Battle of the Tractor Chains. Lifting and fitting the chains on the big tractor wheels is how I prep for the Olympics, and of course by "Olympics" I mean an extra large bacon double cheeseburger with a fried egg on top, because hauling, lifting and tightening those chains makes me super hungry.
With our very steep and long driveway (about 500 feet in length and over 150 feet in altitude gain), chains are required for dealing with ice and snow. It takes a balance of brute force and finesse to get the chains to seat properly on the tires. I can usually tell when I've done it wrong because the chains will get stuck awkwardly on top of the tires in places, making the tractor feel like I'm riding on square wheels.
When that happens, a conscientious tractor owner will of course pull the chain off and do it again. But this is me we're talking about.
So I went with it.
And after a couple times up and down the road on a tractor I swear was trying to buck me, I felt strikingly similar to a gallon can in a paint shaker, my back was compressed so much I was too short to ride on roller coasters, and I swear I lost a couple fillings.
In other words. I was ready to plow some snow!
And lying in bed this morning, thinking about tractor chains, my perilous driveway, and the thirty inches we've received since that first November snow, I realized living out here in the woods takes a lot of work. I also figured out something else that might be handy to know.
Being retired, I don't have too many commitments on my time (apart from the ever growing "Honey Do" list, but like Jesus said, "The 'Honey Do List' will always be with you, but 'Dirty Jobs' is only on a couple hours a week. Mostly re-runs." You can look it up – I think it's in the Living Bible – and like many biblical sayings, it requires some interpretation). Long parentheticals aside, my retirement has given me a new perspective on time and, frankly, I often wonder if it exists at all.
Time as I understand it seems to be a construct, a symbolic way of understanding events and marking lifespans. Before retirement that was important. But now, most things no longer seem all that urgent (incoming snowstorms being the big exception). Time has slowed for me.
Lack of urgency is no excuse for being lazy, however. Even retired, it's important to at least be aware of the passage of time. You never know when it will come in handy.
A case in point: while lying in bed, with a question in my mind, I spent time remembering the events of the past few days. The meals. The walks with the dogs. Working on the tractor. Plowing snow and laying sand. Watching television. Listening to the radio yesterday at the start of the week.
Aha! That's it! "Listening to the radio yesterday at that start of the week." My question answered!
And THAT is how it took me fifteen minutes to figure out today is Tuesday.
When we lived in Alaska, I bought a snow blower and a garden tractor to run it. It worked well. The local store sold chains, but I was too cheap to buy ’em, so I bought individual links of chain and a cable, determined to make them myself.
I learned about twenty ways that chains don’t work, and one that did. After about twenty hours.
I can understand the desire to save money. I think I paid about $250 for these monster chains about 20 years ago, and I think each one weighs at least 75 lbs.. Over the years that $250 has paid for itself many times over.
I used to fret about making sure I got the chains as tight as possible. I spent too many hours loosening, adjusting, and then re-tightening. Now I just make sure they aren’t too loose on the inside (so they won’t slip over the top) then strap ’em down with tie-downs.
That seems to save time.
Yup. Tie downs were a part of the solution. Though I haven’t used a chain in nearly 20 years . . .
It’s dropping into negative temps tomorrow with windchill down to -25 or so. Right now I’m kind of wishing I were in a place that didn’t require me to use chains either.