Snow Shoveling Philosophy


A little secret, that I’ll share with just you, dear Internet, is that I like shoveling snow. Something about working hard out in the cold, and the quiet, and the creak of the snow, and, let’s be honest, my OCD about tidying up applied to the whole, outside world. (Now if I could just get those damn squirrels to wipe their feet before they come onto the porch…)

One of the things I like about shoveling snow is that it gives you time to think, and last night I was thinking about… shoveling snow:

I’ve tried a lot of different “ergonomic” shovels, blade sizes, etc., and I keep coming back to a simple, square, lightly curved metal shovel.

I always used to argue with a roommate about it, but I’d rather shovel 2″ twice than 4″ once. And the earlier you get out, the less time for passersby to turn light fluffy snow into hard-packed, bonded-with-the-sidewalk ice. (Turns out that’s also good don’t-have-a-heart-attack advice.)

We shovel snow for our own convenience, but it’s also part of the whole social compact thing — I shovel my walk well because I want to walk on well-shoveled walks. So, c’mon people, enough with the one shovel-width wide trail down the middle of the sidewalk. It’s inevitable that when you run into someone coming the other way down the sidewalk, it’ll be when you’re both on one of those teeny trails and one of you of you is going to have to step off into the snow. Be a mensch and shovel your whole sidewalk. And don’t be that guy who stops shoveling at the surveyor-accurate border of their property. If you’re out before your neighbor, dig into their sidewalk a ways. Maybe they’ll do the same for you next time. And if they don’t, well then that smug sense of superiority you’ll feel is more warming than any cup of cocoa :-)

Note to self, Fuzzy, chill out on the OCD — no need to “edge” the shoveled walk. Look, it’s already snowing again. Let this serve as a reminder of man’s eternal struggle against the chaotic forces of nature. Get inside and get that mug of cocoa. There’ll plenty to shovel tomorrow.


4 Comments so far

  1. Khyle (unregistered) on December 9th, 2005 @ 1:20 pm

    What’s a social compact? Is it a little social make-up kit?


  2. tom (unregistered) on December 9th, 2005 @ 4:13 pm

    you missed a spot.

  3. steven (unregistered) on December 9th, 2005 @ 4:39 pm

    I thought you were exaggerating when you said you think about a lot when you shovel….you actually do think about a lot. Whenever I’m out there it makes me think of all the people who put their health at risk when they shovel….check this out from

    If you shovel for 30 minutes, you’ll clear away 200 calories along with the snow. Snow shoveling is very demanding on the body. Typical winter conditions (a little more than an inch of snowfall and temperatures that dip below 20 degrees) cause death rates from heart attacks to triple among men 35 to 49 years old.

  4. Justin (unregistered) on December 12th, 2005 @ 2:24 pm

    I too like the task of shoveling snow. Plus it makes it so much easier to get around!

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