Tom Ross' column appears in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Here in Steamboat, we've got our priorities straight. Given a choice, we will always head for the hills and an outdoor adventure before we buckle down to do pressing seasonal chores.
That explains why I'm not futzing with the starter cord of my snowblower this morning. Instead I'm up on Rabbit Ears, keeping a date with my skate skis.
I have a deep affection for my little five-horsepower snow-throwing stallion. Really, I do. During the course of 15 years, it has stood by me through four different winters when 33 feet of snow fell on the mountain. I've almost always changed its oil three times a winter. It (no, I haven't named my snowblower - yet) in turn, has steadfastly refused to complain after all of those times I've carelessly sucked the morning newspaper and a steel dog cable into its auger.
This October, I thought Trigger and I (I just now decided to name my snowblower, Trigger) were ready for winter.
This past Sunday, I pushed Trigger out of the barn and fired him up. He started on the first pull and I let him run for five minutes to get his blood flowing. I had changed his oil at the end of the past winter, so I figured we were set to blow snow.
When I awoke Thursday morning to find the expected snowstorm had gotten a little carried away with itself, I gave Trigger an extra ration of oats, thumped the primer bulb seven times and gave the starter cord a mighty heave. The snowblower started immediately, but there was an ominous sign. The frayed end of the starter cord was hanging limply from the handle still clutched in my leather work glove.
The good news was that the snowblower was running. The bad news was obvious.
I thought about letting Trigger run all winter. However, I quickly came to the realization that I wouldn't be at home enough to keep topping off the gas tank and resigned myself to the inevitable.
Even I can probably take the cover off my flywheel, re-thread the starter cord and fix Trigger. But that's just the beginning of the chores I need to accomplish to be ready for winter, and I'm behind my usual schedule.
Let's see, I still have 50 tulip bulbs to plant in a flowerbed that is covered with snow. One of my lawn sprinklers has gone MIA and both garden hoses are lying frozen under the snow like a pair of sinister green snakes. By now, their insides are frozen and I'll have to thaw them before I can hang them from the garage rafters.
The patio furniture still needs to go under the deck - hey, at least I put the umbrella down before the wet snow could collapse it!
Then there's the situation with the automobiles. Naturally, 90 percent of Steamboat residents are just now waking up to the need to put their snow tires on. I'm no different. But I also have the windshield issue. I'm not sure how I came to own four automobiles. It certainly wasn't intentional. Anyway, three of the four have cracked windshields and two of them were replaced within the last two years. Of the four cars, the only one that doesn't have a cracked windshield refuses to start.
I'd fix that car, but I know that as soon as I get it back on the road, a cement truck will flip a piece of gravel into the air and it will impact my last pristine windshield at a velocity approaching the speed of the Starship Enterprise.
Logic says fixing Trigger should be my first priority, but I'm afraid to jinx the ski season. If my snowblower is broken, all of Ski Town USA is assured that it will snow early and often. However, if I fix my snowblower, the snow gods may divert the storm track just to mess with my mind.
Instead, I think I'll take my wife's Windstar to the tire shop on Monday and make an appointment for the auto glass shop on Tuesday.
Maybe I really do have my priorities straight!
(Honey, did you put my snow shovel somewhere?)