This Monday was the “Invention Convention” at Doyon Elementary School, and the fifth-graders inspired me. With kids creating contraptions to crack all kinds of conflicts, and mountains of old snow stacked all around Ipswich, I had an epiphany: When it comes to snow and snow removal, we need to think more … inventively.
We don’t need a more ergonomically efficient shovel, or a more massive gas-guzzling snowblower.
What we need is heat.
We know how to make heat. We started making heat back when cavemen figured out fire. There’s a blow dryer hanging on a peg in my bathroom that can burn hairs down to the follicle in less time than it takes to floss your teeth. I am a witness. So why not forget about funneling all that energy into snow-blowing, and concentrate instead on snow-scorching? Snow-warming. Snow-melting.
We have the technology. I’m proposing an enormous blow dryer: the SnowTorch™ — a state-of-the-art snow-torching machine. (To test the prototype, I nominate my impressive snowblowing hero of a neighbor — not me, because I don’t do well with heavy equipment, even an electric razor.) The SnowTorch™ is deceptively simple: the same machinery as your common everyday ordinary bathroom blow dryer, but scaled up. Massively scaled up. Just flip the switch, the fan roars, the hot air blasts out of the barrel, and the snow starts to melt.
Yes, there will be a lot of melting, and it will happen quickly. None of this 90-day slow-melt plan that New England seems to be on. The SnowTorch™ will generate a floodtide of snowmelt, flowing downhill, turning Linebrook Road into the Linebrook River, or at least the Linebrook Brook, and splashing out onto Route 1 at Cumby’s. But have no fear. If we can torch-and-scorch our snow by adapting blow dryer technology, we can dry up the subsequent snowmelt by adapting your dentist’s spray-sucking technology. I’m talking about that little tube that the beautiful assistant sticks into your mouth to suck out all the water that the dentist is spraying into your mouth to distract you from the screaming of the drill.
So here’s the plan. You rev up your SnowTorch™, concentrating the astonishing blast of hot air onto the snow on your driveway, but then there’s also this snakelike contraption lying off to one side, on the downhill side. It’s your VacuMelt™, a huge snakelike contraption, and it’s sucking the meltage off the pavement as fast as the SnowTorch™ can produce it. In a few minutes, your driveway is not only snow-free, it’s perfectly dry. (No more of the classic New England melt-by-day, freeze-by-night, fall-on-your-butt-on-the-way-to-the-mailbox syndrome.)
And where does your VacuMelt™ put all that water? Good news. The same technology that gave us the teapot will be adapted to create the SteamStream™. The water goes in, gets super-heated super-fast, and streams out a spout (whistle optional) into the air. The dry winter air moistens pleasurably. People start planting tropical flowers in their yards. Those sad, dirty snow banks lining your street and obstructing your visibility? Gone — replaced by banks of orchids and calla lilies.
Or you can buy an adapter that lets you point your SteamStream™ into your mudroom, and turn it into a sauna. People will start looking forward to winter, and maybe even sigh wistfully as they finally roll their SnowTorch™ into the garage in the spring.
SnowTorch™, VacuMelt™, SteamStream™. I’m on it. As soon as that government grant comes through.