Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Man vs. Wild

Man vs. Wild

I've often remarked to my wife that the Discovery Channel show "Man Vs. Wild," which sends Katie and I'm sure at least five other females (as in hundred thousand) ooohing and aaaahing every week, could be just as effectively filmed in our backyard.

With a few well-placed grunts, and dizzying camera angles, and a day's growth of beard (facelifts and six-month fitness binges aside), your average Joe couch husband could do a pretty passing impression of survival hunk Bear Grylls caught in a Congolese cave pit, or tromping over shards of volcanic rock.

Our backyard has a wicked gopher holl in the far right corner -- I could spend ten minutes or so vamping my way over it. There's this weird silver grass sprouting up along the back fenceline -- I could spend a night talking about its dietary benefits and rip into it with gusto, a few strands provocatively poking through my teeth. I can mimic thirst, hunger, exhaustion. I'm a pretty good sweater, too, if it came to that. And I can rig up all the Boy Scout lean-to fires you could ask for.

Done with an Australian accent, I could have the Discovery film crew over here in a second. Or at least public access.

Ah, but my point. And I do have one.

Nothing makes me go all survivor guy like the recent dumping of snow we endured in the "Greater Chicagoland Area." Several powdered doughnut dustings nearly every day in the early part of last week, then the prodigious eight inch dumping Thursday, followed by the Super Bowl whiteout Sunday.

I'm normally a neighborly guy, but I reserve the right to pound my chest and act like the King Gorilla when I've spent an hour and longer digging out of our driveway and doing all the sidewalks on our corner lot besides. C'mon, across-the-street dude with the snowblower -- I'm up and leaning into it by 7, can't you pull the ripcord on your cakewalk device before the mail comes in the afternoon?

Probably dangerously, this attitude can extend to the roads. Me and my more-or-less family-man sedan, riding the bumpers of the SUVs and grumbling about "If you can't drive in it, there are perfectly good buses... short ones." Not really fair, I know. (I'm good at the personal guilt.) How can SUVs win in this weather? On the one hand, they're built for getting through it, so why the hell are they dragging ass? On the other, they're built for getting through it, so why ride MY slip-sliding-sedan ass -- gimme a break, gas guzzler!

See? They can't win. I can't win. Bear Grylls can't win (read about he and his crew faking their "authentic" survival shoots here: investigation). The only victor in all this is Mother Nature, who laughs at the trenches I dig to allow nonexistant walkers a place to cool their heels, and happily heaps on the wet and heavy stuff when the piles around my mailbox are approaching shoulder height (youch, says my back), then turns around and hits us with 45 degrees hours after my latest feat of shoveling, producing fog and receding piles.

Ah, but anyway -- it's a great workout, right? If you pull something major, and end up in traction for all of February, take heart: that scapegoat Groundhog says we won't see sun until March, anyway.

The view from our driveway Friday, half done:

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