If you drive down the main drag of Copper Harbor after a snow storm, you might see an unusual sight.
Women running snowblowers.
On the east end of town, you’ll watch Staci’s arc of snow flowing and swirling around the parking lot of the Gas Lite General Store. Amanda aims her arc toward a future tunnel luge as the tailing powder poofs about while she clears the lot for the Brickside Brewery. And as you witness those two in one scope, look down the hill toward the Laughing Loon, and you’ll probably see Miss Hannah whirring her machine in front of her family’s gift shop.
It’s charming. It’s unusual. And it’s, well, pretty inspiring!
At the west end, Margaret blows snow in front of her business at North One Gallery. Not only does she work a snowblower and shovel with her silver hair shining under her hood, she often skis or snowshoes nearly a mile from her house just to get there!
Now THAT is inspiring!
Let’s learn a little bit more about what motivates these women to do the grunt work on their property.
“It’s necessary,” says Hannah from the Laughing Loon. “I could hire somebody to plow, but I can do it myself.”
Hannah purchased her snowblower last spring. When I asked her if she feels less daunted when she has to clear the lot with a snowblower instead of a scoop, she said, “Oh, yeah. It’s definitely necessary. I think we had a lull in snow for a few years, but we’re getting more snow now!”
Watching Hannah clear snow is pretty spectacular. She moves it so meticulously. She even shovels the steps with a precision that is unrivaled. I can’t find a flake on the steps after she is through with them!
“I feel really capable,” says Staci at the Gas Lite when asked about how she feels being the female snow mover at her place of business. “It feels really good to know that I can take care of this myself. I like that independence.”
Here’s a shot of Staci hard at work.
If you look really close, you can see her apron hanging around the front of her hips.
“I get my soup going, and then I try to clear the lot before anybody comes!” we laugh at her ability to mesh Susie Homemaker and Joe Blow in a matter of minutes. What a woman!
Amanda clears for the Brickside Brewery and Copper Harbor Vitality. “When Jeff owned the General Store, he pretty much plowed out half the town, and this property was included. Now it’s my turn, as the landlord.” she states. “Good thing I have my she-beast to move all the snow! I take good care of her,” she winks.
People have heard Amanda singing OVER the motor of her snowblower. As the lead singer for Powers of Air, Copper Harbor’s classic rock band, perhaps that’s not too surprising…
…Or Not to Blow?
“We’re considering getting a plow,” says Hannah. “When it comes to the heavy wet stuff, there’s no way to move it with the blower, and I have to move all that by hand.”
Nobody likes to do that.
Amanda’s commented that herself, “Man, if I just had a plow… this would be way quicker and easier.”
As for Staci, well, we’ll let this picture speak for itself!
I think that smile says it all. “I just need some lessons!” she grinned.
Either Way, Show Some Respect!
Whether you are a man or a woman, moving snow in the Keweenaw is a constant chore. With a shovel, a scoop, a snowblower or a plow, you can be out there for hours. Hours! There goes your day! And guess what you get to do tomorrow.
Yup, move some more.
So when you visit the Keweenaw, make sure to treat your hosts with respect. They might have gotten up extra early to make sure you could park your car and be able to back it out with ease.
And, please note that the Keweenaw County Road Commission does a remarkable job keeping the main roads clear everyday. If they are not moving fresh snow, they are trimming banks. If you ever thought you won’t make it to Copper Harbor in the winter, think again. The roads to the Harbor are clear (unless it’s a winter storm blizzard with a first name… then don’t go anywhere!).
There you have it.
Here’s to a joyous new year!
This blog is written by resident author Amanda Wais