It’s all over the Internet — so it must be true: A man in Manchester, Mass., is selling snow.
Mr. Kyle Waring is taking orders for authentic New England snow from people trapped in warmer climates and longing for winter. Last I checked his sophisticated website, ShipSnowYo.com, Mr. Waring was willing to ship you 6 pounds for $89, or 22 pounds for $199 — or you can get on a waiting list for cheaper rates later. (I don’t quite understand why the price would go down later, when presumably he’ll have more trouble obtaining snow. But that’s his problem, not mine.) He started out offering a plastic 16.9-ounce bottle full of snow for $19.99, but he had a meltage problem. (“Your snow may arrive as water,” his website warns.) Later he offered a 10-pound package for $119. Apparently, however, if you’re crazy enough to pay for 10 pounds of snow, you’re crazy enough for 22.
Of course it’s ridiculous for Ipswich to sit around and let Manchester rake in all the snow money. I think we got more snow this winter than Manchester did — we got more snow this winter than anybody did — which would mean that Mr. Waring will run out of inventory before we do. We can start selling snow now and still be making money when he’s stuck sitting in his bare driveway with nothing but a bunch of temperature-controlled shipping crates.
But friends, listen up: Ipswich can do even better. Snow is only the beginning. I can’t help but think of Humphrey Bogart playing a con man in the 1955 Christmas classic We’re No Angels: “We sold bottled air to those whose doctors advised a change in climate. We had three kinds: sea air, mountain air, and all-purpose air just for breathing!”
Think of the possibilities for Ipswich. Stimulating, inspiring Crane Beach air — $12.50 a bottle. Fresh, invigorating Willowdale State Forest air — $14.99. Historic, dust-laden Doug-Brendel’s-basement air — $22.75. We could bottle the air from the fryers at the Clam Box. People could spray it around their homes, or use it as a uniquely Ipswich version of “new car smell,” to remind them of summer in Ipswich.
Let’s figure this out. If there are people who would buy snow — and we know there are, because Mr. Waring sold out of his first batch — there must be a market for other readily available resources. I would welcome your feedback on my initial range of ideas:
* Historic New England dirt. This dirt was dug up from a property that was actually walked on by actual colonists, the people who founded our nation. This is patriotic dirt, trod by patriots, even before there was football. This is the dirt that made America great. $50 per pound, one dollar for every state in the Union.
* Authentic New England fireplace ash. Nobody in America burns more wood in more fireplaces than New Englanders do, because no place has a greater concentration of people trying to cut their heating oil bills. The fireplace ash we offer you today is ideal for throwing on an icy driveway, to minimize slipperiness and avoid personal-injury lawsuits, or for spreading on the gnarled remains of a garden, in the form of almost-magical compost, as many deluded New Englanders do. $17.50 for a one-gallon plastic baggie full of the stuff.
* Unique Ipswich dryer lint fashioned into a masterpiece of impressionist art by a Doyon 4th-grader. $1.25 million, designated for the school budget.
* The actual vacuum cleaner bag, complete with contents, from the vacuum cleaner used to sweep the Board of Selectmen’s room at Town Hall last Monday night. I think $35 would be fair.
* One-of-a-kind kitty litter compilation, fresh from a house where John Updike once lived. $20 firm.
* Special eBay offering: Complete collection of Town Meeting ballots swept from under the seats of the Ipswich Performing Arts Center. Bidding begins at $1,000. (“Buy now” for $2,500.)
As I said, I’m open to other ideas. Depending on what we come up with, there may even be a federal grant from the Small Business Administration to apply for.
Whatever money we can make this winter can help pay for next year’s woodpile.