Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Utah Sport Of Tree-Beating

Yesterday we had snow.
It never stopped.
I shoveled Friday night when I arrived home from school.  I shoveled twice Saturday and  shook down the trees as much as possible.  Today I've shoveled twice already and shaken down the trees again.
Judging from the height of the snow in my backyard where I waded out to my trees, I have just about 21 inches in my backyard.  (I measured against my leg and then measured that space with a yardstick once I came indoors.)  That's 21 inches since Friday night, which is sizable, even in Utah.
For those of you who've never lived in a snowy place before, let me explain the joys of shaking down trees.  The problem is that some trees don't lose their leaves until December.  Basically, there are only a few trees in the neighborhood that DO lose their leaves early -- and, blessedly, they are the trees that are nearest the roof of our house.
However, our street is lined with horrid things that don't lose their leaves until about January and then smell absolutely awful in the spring when they burst into leaf.  These are some nasty trees.  And trees still full of dead leaves + heavy snow = BIG problems.
I watched a branch come down onto a neighbors' yard Friday night.  And, on the second round of shoveling today, I spoke to the teenage daughter who was out shoveling that driveway.  She stopped to text someone, and just as she did, a 10-foot long branch came crashing down, landing inches away from her.
Yesterday, there were crews removing large tree limbs -- like 10 to 15 feet long -- using a digger and a dump truck, for nearly two hours.  Today, there are tree limbs lining the street again, and one completely blocking a section of the sidewalk.  (So far, however, only one car has been damaged and no homes have been.)
Thus, beating tree branches is a regular activity in our neighborhood, engaged in by most of the families (except that one guy who never does any work.  But doesn't every neighborhood have that one guy?).  There are various forms: the guy directly across prefers throwing a broom like a javelin, the guy next door prefers pounding a shovel at the overly-laden branches, and I prefer hooking a rake into smaller branches, then heaving away like a monk ringing a prayer call -- only with snow plummeting down onto me.  (I wear a hoodie; this helps.)  Today, however, I also tried a gutter cleaner with a long neck and a hooked end.  This allowed me to get hold of larger branches and pull.  It worked pretty well.
Really, I am now to a point where I'm seriously considering investing in new boots, as pulling the old ones on and off hurts my back more than shoveling does, and sturdy shoes don't help all that much in 21 inches of snow.  (But the boots I like are priced at an absurd $99, so I'll be dealing with snowy shoes until the after-Christmas sales, thank you very much.)


  1. That does not sound like fun at all. I had to do a little tree-beating, but most of mine are leafless already.

  2. I grew up in CT, where we had snow from Oct-March most years. And even though I know technically it made life difficult (and dangerous!), my heart still longs for the snow. Guess it's kind of like childbirth. You forget the bad parts:)

  3. Because I remember random stuff, don't you have a pair of Wellies that would work?? Yes, I think I recall you posting a pic of them from a trip to Scotland??

    1. Funny that you'd remember that. Yes, I do have wellies, and they're practically useless in a place like Utah, which is why I never owned any until I moved to Scotland.
      The trouble with wellies is that they're plastic. Plastic is NOT a good insulator against the cold of snow. Thus, heavy shoes, warm socks, and jeans are warmer than wellies in the snow.
      I have an old pair of moon boots, but I cannot pull them on or off anymore without hurting my back.

  4. To think, when the Southeast of England gets two inches everything comes to a halt.

    1. Yeah, once, while I was living in Scotland, I saw snowplow trucks (lorries) out on the street, scraping away at half an inch of snow. It made me chuckle.
      Of course, Utah has the equipment to handle snow. We have lots and lots of snowplow trucks, piles of sand and salt (not hard to come by when one lives 20 miles from the Bonneville Salt Flats), and a system in place for cleaning.