Last spring, I was at Edward’s Equipment in our town, perusing their selection of mowers, when I noticed a dust-covered snowblower in the corner, forlorn, like a second-string quarterback riding the bench.
“I’ll make you a deal on that snowblower,” said Doug Edwards. “It’s last year’s model. Never been used.”
It was 80 degrees outside, and winter was eight months away, but time moves a bit faster the older one gets, and I realized I’d be slipping on ice and busting my head before I knew it. So I did what any responsible Christian would do and bought the snowblower, not only for my sake, but for my wife’s, who threw out her back last year shoveling our sidewalk.
Doug and I loaded it in my car and I drove it home and hid it in the back corner of our garage under a tarp so my wife wouldn’t see it until her birthday later that month, when I would present it to her. Her big day arrived. I took her by the hand, led her to the garage, and pulled back the tarp with a dramatic flourish. She was, as you might imagine, stunned. Indeed, she was so overcome, she could only shake her head, too moved to speak.
Now we are walking through the valley of the shadow of winter but fear no evil, for our Honda HS720 is with us. Owning gas-powered snow-removal equipment is a new development. In the past, we have relied upon shovels or the occasional charity of our neighbor, Brian Ritchie, to clean our driveway with his John Deere tractor and plow. But Brian, how shall I put this, has become rather negligent as of late, sometimes not cleaning our driveway until 7:00 in the morning, knowing full well my wife leaves for work at 6:45.
When it comes to my wife’s happiness, I’ve been known to lose all sense of perspective.
While I am all for community and helping your neighbor, there is something to be said for self-sufficiency. I can’t describe the pleasure of lying in bed on a winter’s morning, warm beneath the quilts, and listening as my wife fires up her snowblower with one pull of the starter rope. I roll over, raise the window shade, and watch as she pushes the blower up and down the driveway, leaving clean stripes in her wake. She is, I can tell, delighted with the blower’s efficiency. What used to take her hours with a shovel is now easily accomplished in 20 minutes; then she’s back inside with more than enough time left to fill our woodstove and fix my oatmeal.
Was the snowblower cheap? It was a good deal, but it still wasn’t cheap. But when it comes to my wife’s happiness, I’ve been known to lose all sense of perspective. Should I have waited to buy it until we had paid a few of our other bills? A less thoughtful man certainly would have. But there are times in one’s life when extravagance is called for, and this seemed like such a time to me.
Back when Joe Gibbs was coaching the Washington Redskins, he said, “A winning effort begins with preparation.” I’ve never forgotten that and pointed it out to Brian Ritchie when he asked why my wife did all of the work around our house.
“Brian,” I said, “a winning effort begins with preparation. What you’re witnessing today is the culmination of a mutual effort that began last spring, when it was 80 degrees and snow was eight months away.”
Yes, time moves a bit faster the older one gets, but with age comes the wisdom to meet our challenges and win the day!
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and author of 22 books, including the Harmony and Hope series featuring Sam Gardner.
This article is featured in the January/February 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.