Your Worst Winter Story: Shoveling a roof
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My mother and aunt had moved to New York, where they met husbands and got married and had kids. In the early 1970s, my aunt moved her family back to Minnesota while we remained in New Jersey. That winter, I watched a news story about Minnesota winters: a man with a tiny snow shovel struggled atop a snow drift, the wind whipping the snow out of his shovel. In the corner of the screen there was a TCF time and temperature sign that blinked between 10 a.m. and -20 F.
I laughed at the idea of my cousins in that godforsaken tundra.One year later, I stood armpit-deep in snow atop our house in out-state Minnesota. My mother had moved us to Minnesota in time for one of the snowiest winters ever, and now she was worried that the enormous amount of snow on the roof would make it collapse. I had been dispatched into the blizzard to shovel off the roof, and the wind whipped the snow right out of my tiny snow shovel.
I soon discovered that if I used my shovel to cut a groove, I could send enormous blocks of snow sliding down off the roof. I worked my way around the roof from front to back. Built into a slope, the house was two stories high in back. This was much on my mind when, triumphantly shoving the last block of snow off, I lost my footing and began sliding down the roof.
I shot off the edge of the roof and time stopped. For a long moment I hung in the air like Wile E. Coyote, wondering how I was going to survive a two-story plunge. Then, just like in the cartoon, gravity reasserted itself.
But I'd forgotten about the snow, and, fortunately for me, I plunged two stories only to land in the snowbank of my own creation, leaving a Wile E. Coyote-style me-shaped hole in the snow and doing no more damage than to knock the wind out of myself.