Every winter, my husband and I have the same debate. He wants to buy a snow blower, and I insist that we don’t need one. Our driveway is so small – barely wide enough for two cars – that shoveling it by hand shouldn’t be an issue. At the beginning of the winter, I shovel enthusiastically, racing outside as soon as there’s an inch of snow. By the middle of the winter, wading outside in knee-deep snow, I start to wonder why I was so against buying a snow blower. By the end of winter, spring is in sight and I’ve forgotten all about shoveling until next year, at which point I’m again determined never to buy a snow blower.
Shoveling wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the wind. Up here where I live, on the shore of Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada, the wind comes whipping off the lake at speeds that can reach 45 miles/70 kilometres per hour. It forms the already-deep snow into towering drifts that dwarf me, turning the basic task of clearing the driveway into a monumental one that requires much effort to complete. This winter has been especially wild, burying the coastal communities under multiple feet of snow that takes days to dig out.
Nevertheless, I must keep shoveling, or else I’ll be housebound until April. So I bundle up my two kids, hand them mini snow shovels (I’m training them early so I don’t have to do this forever), and start with clearing the front door so I can access the driveway.
It’s important to consider which direction the wind is blowing. On a few occasions, I have heaved a heavy shovelful of snow over a snow bank, only to receive most of it right back in my face. Most days, though, I have to trudge around the car and walk a little ways down the sidewalk in search of a manageably high bank where I can toss it – maybe only six feet high, instead of the ten-foot walls of snow that hem in the driveway.
Next the car needs to be dug out. Whenever the municipal snowplow drives by, it pushes hard, icy chunks of snow under the back of my car. I get down on my knees, using a metal shovel to chip away at the compacted chunks, and a scoop to clear it out. Only then will my car move again.
All this shoveling does get exhausting, but part of me enjoys the challenge. I wish my fellow Canadians would stop complaining about the weather and embrace our glorious snowy climate. We should be proud of our ability to function amid snow banks and storms.
Next year, when my husband inevitably brings up the subject of a snow blower, I’ll point out that if we made it through the winter of 2014 without one, we’ve pretty much proven we’ll never need one.