I worried about the feral cats outside. I hoped they had retreated to places of safety, but had not become trapped or buried alive. They did not show up on the porch at all that day to eat the food I had put out. That night, I resolved to fight my way out to the bird feeder, fill it with seed, and put out some suet cakes. With effort, I forced open the back porch door and faced down the smooth slope that had once been a flight of steps. I grasped the wrought iron railings, searched in the snow with my boot for the surface of the stone steps, and slowly made my way down to what I eventually decided was the ground level.
Drifting snow buried the back yard waist-high. I waded though the snow blindly, operating on a remembered map of the yard: here is a recycling container, here is a lawn chair, this is a rhododendron, that lump is the bird feeder... The snow came up to the bottom of the bird feeder. I knocked it clean of snow, refilled it, and set the empty seed container down on the waist-high snow. I then hung the suet cake cage I had bought decades ago from the shepherd's crook that the bird feeder hung from.
Satisfied I had given the birds a fighting chance, I looked around the back yard. I could not have positively identified it as my house. Gentle, fluffy mounds occupied the places where familiar objects had been. Were the cats buried under those mounds?
I plowed my way back toward the steps, carrying the now-empty bird seed container. The snow-covered slope of the steps was much harder to navigate going up than it had been to come down. Eventually I hauled myself back onto the porch, set down the bird seed container, and looked sadly at the untouched water and food bowls.
I shook the snow off my clothes and opened the back door. Looking back one last time, I saw that Little Girl, a feral cat who has been with us since 2010, had followed me up the steps and was drinking from the water bowl.
Shoveling the snow took strategy. Shave off the top twelve inches, toss aside. Shave off the next twelve and toss somewhere else. Dig down to the sidewalk layer and clear. Take one step forward. Repeat.
I wasn't doing it alone. My brother and nephews stopped by to clear out the car and help with the sidewalks. We also shoveled the side street and dug out the fire hydrant. It was a lot of work, but we got the job done.
Shortly after we finished, I escorted my mom down to the car. She needs a cane to help her walk, especially when the sidewalks are covered with snow. As we made our way to the car, we looked at the walls of snow piled on either side of the sidewalk. The one on the tree lawn was pretty impressive. It was braced by the snow piled up on the side of the road, pushed there by snow plows. But the sidewalk was clear, and my mom could walk to the car and get to her appointment.
When we came back from the appointment, the sidewalk was buried.
|This is what my mom had to walk over. It was worse before I dug at it. It was much better before it was buried.|
|Note the collapsed snow and the path I had cleared for my mother. The snow at the bottom of the sidewalk was so densely packed that I dug an alternate path across the lawn and around the utility pole.|
I gave them an earful. Told them about what my elderly mother had just had to deal with. Told them about the buried fire hydrant. Told them that whatever contractor had been hired to plow the roads had better get their ass out here to undo the mess they'd made.
And they did.
I can be very persuasive when I'm angry.