This column appeared in The Herald-Sun in February 2014:
Jousting a boulder, it turns out, isn’t such a great idea.
The boulder in question was a hard-packed orb of snow left behind during a pass by the city’s plow truck as it rolled past our house in Watts-Hillandale on Thursday, shortly before the second wave of Winter Storm Pax snow blew through.
On Friday morning, this hazard sat smack dab in the middle of the entrance to our driveway. No way I’d be able to drive around it.
I’m a Floridian. Much like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer character in an old season of “Saturday Night Live,” I am relatively unfamiliar with this thing you call “snow.” Precipitation spilling from the heavens in Florida is almost always rain. Sometimes it’s hail, if we need a little adventure.
I wanted to get out of my driveway Friday.
I’d been good, leaving my vehicle safely parked since Wednesday, remaining obediently at my home with my wife and child rather than risking the icy streets and becoming news instead of reporting it. But two days cooped up in the house was plenty, and with temperatures creeping above freezing, I decided it was time to get out and about.
First, I’d have to deal with the boulder.
I’m not sure why jousting was my immediate go-to plan. I guess I thought that poking it repeatedly with a stick would send it scurrying away, like snakes in the high grass of central Florida. Or perhaps I envisioned the boulder cracking in half with a mighty rumble that would send all the N.C. School of Science and Math kids running to their windows for a look at the aftermath.
Whatever the reason, I tromped in my boots through the crunchy snow and into the house to grab an old broom. Huck, the dog, watched with a curious stare as I passed him on the way out. “I’ve got this,” I assured him.
Poke. Poke. Poke. Poke-poke. Poke-poke-poke. Jabbing the broomstick into the snow boulder made a few holes, but nothing significant. I wouldn’t relent, though. Poke-poke. Poke. Poke. Poke-poke-poke! And then a lump of snow, surprisingly hard, smacked into my eye.
The boulder strikes back, I thought. So that’s how we’re going to play it?
I returned the broom to its closet, grabbed the plastic pitcher I used for filling the dog’s water dish and then filled the pitcher with hot water from the kitchen tap. “Time for a little Florida rain,” I told the dog.
A neighbor driving past slowed as they saw me starting to dissolve the boulder with splashes of warm water. “Need some help?” he asked.
Sure. But no. “I’ve got this,” I said. Ahab, except the pitcher was my harpoon and my white whale was a tiny iceberg.
More trips, back and forth. A decent canyon grew in the middle of the boulder.
A stranger in a pickup truck slowed and asked, “Can I run that over for you?”
I waved him off. “No, no. I’m good. I’ve got this.” He drove away, chuckling.
A couple more trips – resulting in a total of 2,457 steps on my Fitbit – and I was ready. I gave the boulder a hard stomp, right down the middle, and watched it thump apart with smug satisfaction.
Turn up the heat. That’s the Florida way.
Wes Platt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.