I learn more each time I shovel than if I spent the next 3 weeks of my life reading Wikipedia. I LOVE Shoveling. It ‘s my next favorite thing to mowing the lawn with a push mower. I hate the word “exercise”. I don’t exercise. I do things outdoors. Me and mother nature. Mother nature always wins but at least I’ve made it to the 5th decade without a knock out blow to the head. Here are some of the things I’ve learned shoveling. I moved to Alaska because I’m a slow learner.
1. 17 degrees is the best temperature for shoveling. It was 17 degrees today. The snow was light and fluffy. I didn’t get too sweaty or too cold. You know you live in Alaska when 17 is optimal.
2. Snow shovel envy is counterproductive. I had a shitty old metal shovel the last few years. It was bent at the corners from me trying to chop ice. Somehow, maybe it was my landlord or a departed roommate who felt bad for me, a new plastic mid-range scoop/push shovel appeared. It’s a pleasure to work with a cheery bright yellow shovel. Then I saw two of my neighbors with those shovels which look more like wheelbarrows. Damn! Luckily, I remembered that shoveling is fun and it would take me more time than them so I should consider myself lucky.
3. Speaking of chopping ice. Don’t do this when angry. Don’t do anything which requires attention to your body like shooting a gun, stilt walking, negotiating a peace treaty when pissed off. Also, I don’t think any of these things should be done when it’s too cold like minus 5 or so. I hurt my back and had spasms for about 6 months from chopping ice when angry. Sometimes ice, like anger, should just be left to melt away in its own time.
4. Shoveling after work is the better than a cocktail or a chocolate brownie with ice cream. I am eating some peppermint ice cream now and it’s damned good. I waited until after I shoveled. When I pulled in from work I was thoroughly delighted that there was shoveling to do. I was so over-involved at work today that I had forgotten it snowed! Shoveling allows me to let go of everything else and enjoy a brisk evening out on the street without seeming desperately lonely. It’s okay to sun in your yard in the summer but sitting in the pitch dark in the snow is strange and scary. People may ask if you’re alright but they won’t want to date you. Shoveling is more normal.
5. Nothing brings the neighbors out like a fire truck or shoveling. It’s fun to see neighbors when you’re shoveling. You can both laugh that the city plow blocked your driveway again or curse about the other neighbor who left their car on the street so the plow couldn’t even get near you. It’s a great time to bring over some cookies or a flask or whatever you like to share with folks in the hood. I can be in the presence of other people without having to chat or even know their names. I’m terrible with names. Worse than you, really. Sometimes I forget my own.
6. How you shovel is how you live. Some people do their own shoveling, some pay others, some buy a snow blower. Not everyone can shovel. I’m thankful I can. What I’m really getting at is that some people don’t even bother. They just run over the snow with their car. Some people just push the snow into the street for everyone else to get stuck in. Some people, like me, overdo it and shovel out the sidewalk and street in front of the entire house. Hey, I’m not the only one. I think of it as part of my civic duty. Maybe I’ve just turned into one of those old ladies who sweeps their section of the street all summer and complains about the dirt in front of other people’s houses. Sometimes I even wish there was an older lady on my street so I could shovel her driveway too.
7. Embrace the unexpected. Sometimes I come home and my neighbor has cleared my driveway with his snow blower. Sometimes one of my roommates has actually shoveled (once anyway.) Once a man with a plow stopped me from clearing out the parking space in front of my house and did it for me. Once my sister and I were out play shoveling and she got picked up by a Saint Bernard who carried her down the street by the back of her hood. That was unexpected and although it was scary it sure makes a good story.