Snow machines, yes. And by that I do not (as you might have thought) mean snowblowers – though today’s exercise in shovelling Friday’s impressive snowfall out of the Manse’s driveway has made me realize that if Raymond and I are going to spend significant time here in the winter we are probably going to have to get one of those.
No, “snow machines” is what a lot of people around Queensborough used to call snowmobiles back in the 1960s and ’70s when I was growing up here, when the “snow machines” looked like the vintage model in this photo that I found at a site called Sledder Al’s Vintage Snowmobile Web Site. (I will add a link when I am back in the Land of Better Internet Connectivity, but you can Google it.)
Why did they call them “snow machines” instead of snowmobiles? I really don’t know, except that as I recall it was by and large males who used the turn of phrase; maybe “snow machine” sounded more manly to their ears than “snowmobile.”
Anyway, driving to the Manse this morning through a very snowy landscape under a bright sunny sky made me realize that it was a perfect day for snowmobiling (snow machining?), and I was surprised that I only saw one of them out and about. When my family lived at the Manse snowmobiles were pretty new, and they were the rage. Ours was pretty much the only household not to own one (or two, or three, or four) that I knew. Families that did have them often invited the minister’s kids (us) to come over for a ride, and out we would go in the back seat, into some snow-covered field that we would go around and around and around…and around. I never quite got the point, to tell you the truth. And an awfully large amount of fossil fuels were burned for no particularly good reason.
If it were then instead of now, forty or so years later, I would hear a cacophony of snowmobile engines if I were to open the front door of the Manse. People would be riding them up and down the streets in the village, and off in the fields in the distance. It would be a kind of musical background to a clear winter’s night in Queensborough.
Instead, I open the door (as I did just now) and hear – utter silence. (Well, not quite. There was a dog barking.)
Which in many ways is good. And very environmentally friendly.
But you know, I think I’d kind of like to hear a bit of far-off snow-machine buzzing. For old times’ sake.
Postscript: Now that I am back in the Land of Better Internet Connectivity, here is the link for Sledder Al’s Vintage Snowmobile Web Site. And here is a link I happened on for another site, a place that does restorations of old snowmobiles; there are some pretty cool before-and-after photos of “antique” (that is, from my era) snow machines.