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Shoveling snow (#1117)

Topics/tags: Miscellaneous

It snowed in Grinnell yesterday and last night. About seven inches, give or take. It was beautiful.

I will admit that I was tempted to go on Facebook, post a photo, and write something like,

I love the snow.

Particularly when my sons are home to shovel.

But I’m avoiding Facebook.

In any case, Middle Son decided to shovel for a bit last night, in the midst of the storm. I’m not sure whether or not it had an impact; we had a lot of wind. I can tell about the wind because parts of our backyard are nearly clear and parts are probably fourteen inches or more. While I don’t particularly appreciate shoveling the taller drifts, I do like looking at the landscape the wind makes out back.

Today I’m particularly grateful for whoever decided to use their snowblower on our front sidewalk. Yes, I realize that there are environmental implications, but it’s nice to have less to shovel—or less for the boys to shovel. (Arguably, I should say less for the men to shovel, but I expect we’ll always call them the boys.) And I’m certainly glad that the boys are shoveling.

I went outside to help and was reminded of something I notice each year: There are very different perspectives on shoveling. Shovelers differ in how much of a walk they shovel, side-to-side. Some shovel one shovel’s width (or one blower’s width, if they blow snow). Some make sure to shovel the full width of the walk. I tend to fall into the latter camp. I realize that it’s much faster when you shovel less. But I always look toward the next snowstorm, and I know that I find it harder to do a second shovel unless I’ve cleared the walk completely after the prior storm.

Then there’s a question of how much you clear. Some folks are comfortable leaving a lot of snow on the parts they’ve cleared. The snow-blowers always leave a small layer of snow. Some seem to want to clear every speck. I expect most folks fall somewhere in the middle. I prefer to clear off the little triangles at the edges that come from shoveling at an angle, but I’m still comfortable leaving the edges uneven and some snow around.

At our house—and I expect many others—there’s also a question of which walks you clear. I count about eight at our house. There’s the normal sidewalk that runs parallel to the street outside, Main Street in our case. There’s a walk from the front door of the house to the main sidewalk. There’s a walk from the side porch to the main sidewalk. There are two walks from the main sidewalk to the street, one a continuation of the front walk and one a continuation of the side walk. There’s a walk from the back door to the garage. There’s a walk that goes south around the garage to the alley. And there’s a walk that goes north toward our parking spaces. Oh, I suppose there’s also the parking spaces on the side of the garage and the apron to the garage. I described them in an earlier musing.

So which do you clear? Michelle doesn’t generally worry about the walks between the main sidewalk and the street; I prefer to shovel both, completely. Of course, those are among the most frustrating to shovel. Why? Because the city likes to plow over whatever you’ve shoveled. At times, it’s better to wait until the city plows because that ensures that you have somewhat software snow underneath the dirty snow. But in normal times, you often want to get to or from the street, such as when someone gets dropped off. And when the main sidewalk is not shoveled or blown for the whole block, people may want to get off the sidewalk. So I always shovel at least one of them.

We always shovel the front walk, the side walk, and the walk to the garage. I used to avoid shoveling the walk south of the garage, but Michelle always wanted that shoveled. These days, it’s my path to work, so I like it shoveled. We generally put off the path to the parking spaces. I often shovel the apron; my minivan doesn’t clear snow well. But I’m not driving much these days, so I didn’t worry about it today (and didn’t ask the kids to worry about it).

Postscript: Today, in addition to asking me to muse about shoveling, my muse challenged me to avoid endnotes. I succeeded, more or less. I didn’t add an endnote about apron. I didn’t note that snowblower can reference the machine or the being that pushes the machine. I didn’t riff on the difference between sidewalk, which I used for the main walk parallel to Main, and side walk, which I used for walk from the side of the house to the main walk. Come to think of it, I didn’t even riff on main walk and Main street and whether that meant that I should call it the Main walk. And I didn’t ask whether it should be end note or endnote.

Of course, I did add a few parentheticals, one about my boys being men and one about a blower’s width. And, in the paragraph above, I did summarize at least half of the endnotes I would have written. Did I meet the challenge? That’s unclear. I suppose I’ve become like one of those novice writers who deem it necessary to include all of their thoughts, rather than valuing brevity.

Oh well, at least you can skip the postscript.

Postscript: I appreciate that after Eldest Son came in from shoveling, he said something like I should know better than to shovel the sidewalk from edge to edge. I’m so proud.

Postscript: Since I’ve mentioned Middle and Eldest, I should note that Youngest Son was the first one up to shovel this morning. I appreciate that, too. I’m lucky to have three awesome sons.

Version 1.0 of 2020-12-30 .