Clearing the way for gifts

It was 8 o’clock Christmas morning and Jenny was getting a little peeved.

“Quit doing that and come inside. Everyone is waiting to open their presents,” she called out from the front porch of her parents’ house in northern Kentucky.
The exasperation in her voice came from the knowledge that her stubborn husband (that would be me) wasn’t going to quit until he got done.
I was shoveling the new-fallen snow off her parents driveway and piling it up on the 8 inches or so that was already there in the yard when we arrived last Thursday.
After taking my little dog out for his morning walk in the 14-degree weather, I had grabbed the snow shovel next to the door. It was the first time I had shoveled real snow, not the dusting that we occasionally get here in the South, since I lived in upstate New York 30 years ago. Because the new snow was only two or three inches deep, it was pretty easy to shovel, and in about 45 minutes I had the long driveway clear.
As a child growing up in the Midwest near Kansas City, I had gotten an early lesson or two in snow removal from my father. Get it off quickly before it has a chance to harden or thaw slightly and then turn to ice, he said. Otherwise, the driveway might be slick for days or weeks.
Sometimes he would be out with his shovel by 5:30 a.m., so he could get it all off the driveway before leaving for work. It was harder to remove if packed down by car tire tracks.
Quick snow removal was even more important the four years I lived in Binghamton, N.Y. That’s because it snowed two or three times a week, and snow usually stayed on the ground from November until April.
If you ever got behind, you likely were not going to be able to get your car out of the garage. And if you did, you wouldn’t be able to get it from the driveway into the street because the city snowplow would leave a waist-high pile in front of your driveway every time it snowed.
As I was shoveling Christmas morning, I was thinking about those days and how much life had changed. In 1982, when I got a chance at a job in San Diego, I took it and gave away my snow shovel. Six  years later, I moved to the South.
A half dozen times over the past two decades, I probably could have used a snow shovel. But they aren’t very effective in the ice storms we occasionally get.
My solution: Let it melt.
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It’s winter time and time to plant.
That doesn’t make much sense to me, but apparently it is true. And that is what has been going on at our house recently.
Before the ground froze, Joe planted more than 200 daffodil and iris bulbs for his mother in a large flower bed in back of our sunroom.
And we added 12 rose bushes, five crepe myrtles, two magnolias, a red bud and a red maple. Well, I say “we.” Actually, the “we” was U.S. Lawns.
I like to say I’m a “smart gardener.’ Smart enough to get someone who knows what they’re doing. And smart enough to know it’s not me.

T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by e-mail at