Friday, March 10, 2023


This past Saturday had warmed up enough, that it seemed a good day to do some roof-raking. The snow was deep enough on the west roof, with more sliding down from the upper story, that I was afraid of ice dams and leaking into the ceiling.

Our roof rake comes in three pieces. When they are all connected, it’s about twenty feet long. Of course, the rake end is heavier than the other end, so one has to learn to hold and balance it in the appropriate place when walking to the work site. You also have to be careful you don’t accidentally hit the car in the driveway (or anything else), with the end that trails.

As soon as I left the shoveled path to the alley, I discovered the snow was higher than my boots, but there was another foot or so crusted over that would bear my weight. Unfortunately, that only lasted for a few steps, when I broke through the crust. It was a minor struggle to get to the west roof with my twenty foot rake and snow to my knees.

All went well till I moved to the west front porch roof. Sliding snow from above and a ferocious wind had packed snow, and now ice, high in the corner. My office window was completely covered. I began raking. But the packed snow was high and solid and I had to literally throw the rake into the drifts to bring it down. On one of those throws, I lost my balance and found myself laying sideways in a snowbank.

It was embarrassing, trying to get up with nothing solid to support my efforts, except the snow rake; and the rake was hanging on the edge of the roof with the other end stuck in the snow some distance away. When I finally managed to right myself, I quickly checked the neighborhood to see if anyone had seen me fall.


Laying sideways in the snowbank made me think of younger days. We used to play fox and goose. We would make a large circle in the snow, stomping down a trail. The circle would be cut with other paths and a safe spot in the center. Only one goose could be in the safe spot at a time, as the geese were chased around the trails by the fox. If you were caught, you became the fox. The best games happened when the snow was deep. Turning a corner at top speed people would slip and fall in the snow, off the trail. Sometimes, we might have to make a new trail as more and more geese found themselves lying sideways in the snow.

If I were a student at SDSU, I would organize a fox and goose hunt on the campus green. What a wonderful expanse for an enormous and intricate trail, big enough to hold fifty to a hundred; with several foxes identified by a red scarf or SDSU cap.

Or how about a football game? Our family used to play touch football in the snow. Once we played another family in the street in front of the house, while roads were closed. On another occasion, we played them in the parking lot across the street. There was also a football game on the snow covered ice at Oakwood Lake.

Have the Bobcats been having a friendly game of football in the snow?

I’m afraid in a culture so driven by productivity and busyness, snow is seen simply as an annoyance; a problem to be countered and cleared as quickly as possible. Thanks to my fall in roof raking, I was forced to remember other ways of connecting with snow; like snow angels; snow forts and snowball fights; snowmen and women.

Once a friend and I decided to climb in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in early spring. We weren’t aware how much snow there would be at higher elevations, and we weren’t prepared when we broke through snow crust up to our hips on the trail. It was difficult and frightening enough that we considered turning back. But we gradually learned how to get one leg out without plunging the other in as well, and before long, the deep snow subsided. We reached the summit to the most awesome sight we had ever seen. We were above the clouds. Only mountain peaks were visible in the distance. It was like standing on the roof of heaven; a spectacular gift after a snowy challenge.

On another trip in the White Mountains, I spent several hours sitting in a tree looking out at a snowy meadow, with the woods beyond. Birds came and went near my nest. I watched the sun reflected off the snow as it moved across the heavens. I watched the rabbits and deer making tracks in the snow. I watched in silence, a snowy field on a sunny afternoon; a most memorable experience.

There will likely be more snow before we see the spring. May we play as well as plough!

Carl Kline

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