SNOW, SNOW, GO AWAY. Seems to me that has a familiar ring to it, except it’s usually during the summer when it’s rain and everyone wants sunshine.

My gripes about the past several days of moving snow are just like those of everyone else, but the truth of the matter is this is not the first early December with snow like this and it likely won’t be the last.

This is, after all, far north Wisconsin and it is here that we learn early on to expect winter will play hardball with us. We learn, too, that whatever winter throws at us we make do with it. Doesn’t stop us from complaining, but we do survive.

When it comes to early and heavy snow, we get to refresh our memories about such things as what end of the snow shovel to hold, where the gardening tools and bags of mulch we were going to move away from where the snowplow pushes snow are buried, and where assorted other oddments we need for clearing snow were stashed away.

We learn how steep the pitch of our roofs are and how easy it is to slide off when shoveling 2 feet of snow from said roofs; not that I am about to get up on my roof to shovel anymore. Paying two young gaffers is much easier than holding a shovel in my hands.

There was a time, though. During my first year of college, I came home for semester break in late January to find all kinds of roof shoveling opportunities available. Like most college students I had no money so a buck-25 an hour sounded pretty good.

One of the most memorable shoveling jobs that year that I was in on, along with about three other similarly financially situated college students, was clearing the roof on Molgaard’s Indian Lodge supper club in St. Germain.

Molgaard’s, if you haven’t been from around here for at least 50 years, was a very popular supper club run by Gina Molgaard and her husband, Joe. I used to carry out groceries for Gina while I was in high school working summers at Camp’s Red Owl and I learned quickly she was one of the nicest people on earth.

As for the shoveling job, we used a ladder to climb up on the steeply pitched roof to get started. That year, the snow was about 3 feet deep already by that time, so it took quite a bit of struggling to get up and over to where I went to work clearing out valleys over an entrance.

Much to my dismay, I discovered too late that I should have volunteered to allow one of the other guys to take on that job. No exaggeration, the snow was 4 feet deep in the valleys and packed solid as a rock.

I can tell you the four of us earned our money and then some that afternoon. When we finally pushed the last shovelful off the back side of the restaurant, we stepped up on the accumulated snow pile and slid down to the ground. 

During the year I took off from college, as a result of being broke after paying for major knee surgery the summer before, I earned more extra money toward rebuilding my college fund by shoveling snow on the side.

One afternoon in mid-January, after early snows had already piled high, I went to Mike Froelich’s old resort on the north shore of Plum Lake to start cleaning the roof on his house. Mike had passed on by then, but my uncle was his cousin and paid me to shovel so I shoveled.

During the afternoon, snow continued what it had started the night before and as I shoveled, it piled up to more than a foot on the level on an unplowed Camp Highlands road.

It was hairy shoveling 25 inches of snow off one side of Mike’s house where the roofline extended over the edge of a steep hill going down to Plum Lake, making it a drop of at least 16 feet to the ground. Even being young with a strong back and weak mind, I had sense enough to be very careful pushing snow off that edge.

Suffice it to say, I was quite pleased when I finished the job in late afternoon. Pleased that is, until I got down the hill to where I’d parked my ’63 Rambler. Luckily, it was parked heading downhill so I was able to get going, but staying going was an adventure.

Plowing snow all the way, I made it almost to the intersection with Razorback Road when my engine light came on. Stopping, I got out, lifted the hood and found the entire engine compartment caked solid with snow. Snow had pushed the fan belt off its pulley so there I was, dead in the water, 3 miles from home.

Fortunately, the school bus came along, the driver picked me up and took me to his house where I phoned my dad, who for reasons unknown to me was quite unhappy I hadn’t had the good sense to start home earlier.

He managed to drive his truck to where I was stalled. We wrestled the belt back on and following in his tracks, I made it home.

Shoveling roofs wasn’t the only thing I did in years of early and heavy snow. During some of my growing-up years, we would spend much of late February and most of March in the pine and swamp yarding areas of deer in our neighborhood cutting maple, popple, and pine saplings and branches for browse to help the critters survive.

I don’t know how much good we did, but I know that every day, when I got home from school and went out on snowshoes with ax in hand, the deer had completely cleaned up the browse I cut the day before. One time, a struggling deer allowed me to snowshoe right up to it and stood still while I petted its back. Then, it followed in my snowshoe footsteps to the next patch of browse I cut. 

That’s the way it was in years of deep snow. It could be that way this year. We made it through then and we will now. 

Happy shoveling.