Feb 3 2012 1:43 am
Just before a storm the pickups with plows tend to cruise the city streets and parking lots slowly under streetlights, like soldiers milling about before a battle? Like sharks swimming circles before an attack? Like sprinters limbering up before stepping into the blocks? Like pity for the ignorant?
The trucks are big and small, but they're mostly pickups. Occasionally you'll see some weirdo with a plow on a Jeep or something like that, but mostly they're pickups. Some of the trucks are big and new and shiny, but most are quite rusty, beat up, only used as plow trucks in the winter, left sitting in back yards and garages the rest of the year, occasionally brought out to haul something I suppose.
The big pale blue plow trucks from the city don't fuck around with this pre-storm bullshit cruising. They're too busy driving at unreasonable speeds through the city streets spraying salt everywhere, spending just as much time as necessary to get the job done.
Then when the snow starts accumulating they race through the streets again, this time in pairs, slightly staggered across the streets, the second plow pushing the snow closer to and over the curb, their plows making a decidedly apocalyptic racket against the road as I stare out the window at them and wonder if they could really slow down in time if a kid or a dog or a car ended up in front of them by accident or as I lie in bed sleeping.
I think the recycling truck is actually more startling in terms of startling city services as it goes from absolutely nothing to crashing and breaking glass whereas the plow trucks build slowly from the soft distances and race past your house and softly into the distance again. The doppler effect changes the racket of the plow on the road just enough to make it sound weird. You can tell how much snow you have by the racket as well. Is it muffled or clanky?
Some guys make a lot of money here in the winter, plowing driveways and businesses. But winter just can't seem to stay winter this year. And for a while the one thing I could take solace in was the ice on the lower river, protecting it from the fish killers. But even that, now, cannot be relied on, and wild steelhead are surely slaughtered every day.