Outdoors blog: Strange sounds in the night -- explained
By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune
Strange sounds in the night
I was walking Lucy, our yellow Lab, last night when I heard an unusual sound. We were approaching a darkened street, and my eyes hadn't yet adjusted to the darkness. The sound was a deep crunching of snow, but not like footsteps. It was more a grinding sound. No cars were about. I couldn't figure it out.
I walked ahead, and as my eyes adjusted to the dark, I saw a human figure and then a black Lab. I called out. Yep. It was a woman I know well. A neighbor, walking her dog.
I stopped to talk, and she told me what she'd been doing -- besides walking her dog.
"Look at that," she said.
She pointed to one of those solid boulders of snow left by the last plowing. It was bigger than a basketball, and it was lying in the street. The wet and icy snows from earlier this winter plowed up in these big clumps, and after the city's last tune-up plowing, several of them in our neighborhood had rolled back down to the streets.
"You can't drive over that," the woman said. "So, I've been throwing them up on the snowbanks."
I knew exactly what she meant. I told her that the last time the city plowed past my driveway, it left one humongo clump far too big for either my snow shovel or snowblower. I had to lift it and drop it three times until it broke into bite-size chunks.
Her dog, my friend said, now understands that when they come to one of those free-standing snow globs on their walks, it's time to stop. Then this woman, in a calf-length coat and her reflective vest, wrestles the bulky white sphere into her arms and heaves it up onto the snowbank. The wrestling and heaving were the grinding sound I'd heard.
My friend said her husband had wondered why it took her so long to walk the dog the other night. She explained she was clearing the streets as she went. And no doubt getting a good upper-body workout in the process.
It's surprising what your fellow citizens will do in the dark of night, improving the lot of their neighbors.