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February 23, 2012: Close Encounters of the Snowplow Kind

More snow. More snow to be moved around. Those flakes that yesterday were falling lightly from the sky have now settled in for the duration.

Snow impedes movement, so it must be put elsewhere.

This morning, as I was out taking photos, I again heard the now all too familiar beep-beep-beep of Mr. Plow guy’s rig. I waited for what seemed like an interminable amount of time before going for my morning walk. In fact, it could have more aptly been called my afternoon walk.

I considered foregoing this walk because I had other things to do, but the goats really needed to get out. They have an early case of spring fever. I took them out yesterday, but after they busted through the shed door. I went outside, and there they were, all three, giving me The Look. It means What’s Up?

Goats are never contrite, nor do they exhibit remorse. You hit a pet goat, and seconds later it will again ask, What’s Up?

I let them out of the shed and then retrieved Signy, who (as always) was glad to get away from Raudi, who she considers to be her oppressor. And Jenna, who was loose in the yard, joined us.

Off we all went, down our as of yet unplowed driveway, over the berm, onto the freshly plowed road. I noted that the footing was icy, as did the goats, which after skidding a bit, slowed down, moving a bit more cautiously.

Goats, horses, dog, me, -- we were 3/4ths of the way around the loop when I heard it – beep, beep, beep. I turned around and saw it, the black and orange plow truck coming around the corner. I picked up the pace, and at the same time looked for an out, so as to let Mr. Plow guy and his truck pass. I then breathed a sigh of relief as a driveway materialized on my right. I quickly hopped over a two-foot berm, as did Signy. Ranger, Rover, and Jenna followed, but Peaches remained in the road, looking at me. I disregarded her request that we keep going, and continued up the driveway. Peaches, now outnumbered, clambered over the berm and joined the rest of us.
The snowplow ground to a halt. I could see Mr. Snowplow, a shadowy figure, high up in the cab. He turned off the engine, opened the door, and moved to the front of his machine. I momentarily stood, surrounded by animals. It was a scene much like that in the painting you see on the t-shirt entitled “Love the Animals, Don’t Eat Them.” There’s a curly haired cherubic figure, surrounded by kindly animals, a sheep, cow, and lion included. This was not what Mr. Snowplow saw. Rather, he saw an older, deranged woman holding the lead of a pony, and surrounded by three dirty goats and a mangy looking dog.

I looked carefully at him. Tall, with a gray beard, he appeared to be somewhat imposing. His blue eyes radiated anger.

“Why don’t you leave those things at home?” he shouted.

Right then, a hundred or so answers went through my head. I wisely took a deep breath and decided to go with a non-adversarial response, one that later made me think of John McPhee’s Travels in Georgia. There, the central character knowingly humors a man operating a bulldozer. It’s a great dialogue. I knew that I could never do it justice, but I decided to give it a try.

“They’re not things. They’re animals,” I said.

Mr. Plow Guy then began sputtering, saying that he still had two hours of work to do and why didn’t I wait until he was done?

I said that I presumed that he was done before setting out, and added that I very much appreciated all of his efforts.

Mr. Plow guy then stomped back to cab and climbed back into it. I wanted to yell at Mr. Plow Guy, but did not. This was not because I’d come to the realization that shouting merely fuels the fires of dissension, but rather, I was in a good mood. It was a beautiful day, in a late February kind of way—and I felt fortunate to be in the company of my critters.

He restarted his engine, and drove off. I smiled and waved before ushering all the animals back over the berm.

It occurred to me as I headed down road that my inadvertently taking a non-adversarial approach was the right thing to do. Mr. Plow Guy can, if he wishes, make life hard for us, by leaving a snow berm at the base of driveway. And he can, if he wishes, refuse to slow down when he sees animals in his path.

I saw this situation from Mr. Plow Guy’s perspective. He’s tired of winter, tired of snow, tired of complainers and complaints, and tired of doing contract work for the Mat Su Borough. Oh well.

I returned home, and put the animals in their respective pens. I would like to get him a “Love the Animals, Don’t Run them Over,” t-shirt. It would have an image of me and my walking companions. But sad to say, I don’t think that Mr. Plow Guy would see the humor in this.

Next: 79. 2/26/12: Patron Saint of Artistic Endeavors