Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Snow Business: I Have A Problem


Greetings from the snowy depths of NEO in February. We have had snow on the ground here for approximately eleventy thousand of February's twenty-something days so far, most of which have been below freezing. And cloudy. If you listen closely, you can hear the screaming inside my head.

Because it is far too treacherous to take my daily walks, I happily shovel the snow from our driveway, sidewalk, front porch, and walkway. As I said in a previous post, it offers many rewards besides good exercise. Only when it is a particularly heavy or six-inches-all-at-once kind of snow am I not out there shovelling.

There is, however, a Dark and Unseemly Side to my snow shovelling habit. My sense of satisfaction at a job well done has turned into a fetish, a compulsion almost. My driveway must not just be shovelled. It must be completely clear of snow, scraped clean of ice, and a paragon of snow removal. It must be the Example By Which All Other Driveways Everywhere Are Measured.

Let me illustrate what I'm talking about by showing you a few photos. Here is what a normal person's snowpile looks like along the side of her driveway.

This is my neighbor's, two doors down.

See how the snowpile is just snow? There are some clumps here and there from a snowblower. For those of you who don't often see snow, you might even think it "looks pretty." (I'm trying hard not to hold that against you.)

On the very same day, here is the snowpile alongside my driveway after I had been outside shovelling.

Not so pretty, is it?

I cannot Just Shovel. Part of the problem is that my driveway gets driven on early in the morning when Rick leaves for work. This packs the snow down into tire tracks. Sam also comes for lunch, and if it's still snowing, his big truck tires pack the snow down even more. But once my shovel hits bare concrete one time, the Sickness takes hold, and I can't stop. Pretty soon, I'm scraping and chipping, and my snowpile looks like this:

Isn't it beautiful and awful at the same time?

Once those big pieces start coming up, I'm hooked. I'll stay out there until my shoulders are on fire and my hands and feet are numb and dead. Rick's at work; there's no one to stop me, to appeal to what's left of my sense of Reason. I'm on a Mission, and that Mission is a completely clear driveway. Even if there is a forecast for more snow that night--or even that same afternoon!--I do it anyway. I have no idea why.

I have come in from a bout of my Crazed Shovelling and gone straight into a hot shower, my whole body aching, only to get out and seek the comfort of a heating pad on my back and shoulders. More than once, my son Sam has caught me at my task, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. Today, Rick called me from work specifically to tell me NOT TO EVEN ATTEMPT TO GO OUT AND SCRAPE ANY ICE FROM THE DRIVEWAY. I was mildly irritated; it was definitely something I had planned to do today. (There's no way a shovel would do it, but we have a different tool in the garage that would be perfect.)

Honestly, though, look at this stuff. Look at the layer of ice on the bottom and how compressed the snow is. That stuff used to be on my driveway!

Good riddance!

Am I alone in this? I definitely am the only Afflicted one in my family. No one else is so crazed about snow removal/driveway grooming in Winter. I know how nuts it is. Help me through it in Comments.


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34 comments:

  1. Horrific. I have always said that I am so glad I lived in snowy climes when I was a kid and not in adult life. I hear your pain. I remember my dad getting up at 5 a.m. putting snow chains on the car tires.

    I sympathize even more after a week of temperatures between -1F and -4F, which I have never experienced anywhere. Power blackouts with no heat, no light, no water, no food, and burst pipes everywhere causing flooding in homes. And a state that insists on being on an independent power grid, controlled by the reptilians who blame the 'green new deal' (not even a 'thing' yet), saying this has caused all the grief and deaths of people literally freezing to death in their homes or dying from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to stay warm in their cars. When in fact... the power companies who enriched their campaign coffers refused to pay for winterizing the power grids. Didn't save much money for consumers. Said by a customer in Texas who didn't lose power and now has a $16,000 electric bill. May all the reptilians rot in hell. Or in Cancún.

    O.K., sorry for the off-topic diatribe. I can't imagine dealing with all that shoveling grief every winter, year after year. Hoping you get spring thaw earlier than usual. XXOO

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    1. Ortizzle--I have been thinking of and wondering about you and how you were faring. It seemed silly to send an email asking those questions if you had no power, and then forcing you to relive it in a reply. Of course we were watching the news out of TX with incredulity. It was like Katrina in its tragedy, except that the government opened the door for its own devastation.

      I hope TX and its citizens recover speedily from this; I truly do. It must have been a nightmare.

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  2. I think if I lived where it snowed I would absolutely have to do it the way you do, nothing less would be acceptable! Our posts are the total opposite today, but just remember when you have beautiful weather I'll be suffering in the sweltering heat!

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    1. Martha--Just knowing the way you attack your projects, I feel sure that you'd be the same way with your driveway.

      I keep trying to remember that we'll be in the hotbox soon enough ourselves. Spring, my favourite season, is so short.

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  3. Until I moved from South Carolina to Ohio, I did not understand that there was indeed snow protocols. As I have gotten older, I do not have the desire/ability to attack our snow piles, but still find myself being judgmental about techniques! This week a young mom asked for some items that I had excess of. I mentioned our (inclined) driveway had a few icy spots. then I made a mistake by saying, I will drop these items at your house. When I arrived at their home, they had made no attempt at clearing their driveway... so here I am at age 73, trying to negotiate to their front door to leave these free items. I made it but my past history of a badly broken arm from falling on ice was causing me much anxiety.

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    1. JanL--I don't expect everyone to get as crazed about their driveway as I do, but those who don't shovel at all mystify me. I also get a bit irritated by those who do not shovel the sidewalk in front of their homes. Certainly all sorts of circumstances might dictate why these things don't happen, but I see more people my age (61) and older out removing snow than I do my much younger and haler neighbours.

      I think about our mail delivery person, for example. I keep the porch clear and the steps salted. I am in the minority.

      I'm so glad you were able to safely navigate your charitable act. Falling is terrible and, at least in my case, feels so defeating. Let's hope Winter is on its way out very, very soon.

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  4. I'm not admitting to anything, except I know exactly what tool you are talking about. 🤭🤫

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    1. Dee--Kindred spirit and friend.

      My driveway is gorgeous.

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  5. I understand the appeal of shoveling snow. It's good exercise and can be really peaceful, easy to live in the moment. In fact tomorrow I'll be doing just that while the temperature go up over freezing. Gotta dig out my mailbox.

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    1. Jean--Hm.

      Well, be careful out there. Once the snow starts melting, it gets tough to shift around. I hope there are some good things in that mailbox that make it worth your efforts.

      Delete
  6. Well, Ive been not that thorough, but I have shoveled or snow blowed each and every time we had snow fall. Fireman fixed the 18 year old snow blower, so yesterday I decided I would shovel the deck. I d say I got through 1/6th of the deck. It was piled high and I wanted a path to the hot tub. I have also been taking the screens off the upstairs windows , opening the windows wide and either using the leaf blower or a broom to get the snow off the skylights and , today, even off the roofs with no skylights. I hope to avoid any drips in this house. We had buckets in the kitchen of the hundred year old Illinois house...I don't ever want that again. SO i've been sweeping the snow from the roof through the windows. Oh, and the upstairs porch too. I think we have the same virus...

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    1. kathy b--I refuse to use the snowblower. Each time Rick comes in from using it, he stinks from exhaust and I feel a migraine coming on from it. He has to immediately go change in the basement or take his clothes there ASAP.

      You do sound like you have a touch of the Snow Sickness! Not quite the same one, but a variant. I HATE SNOW! AND I WILL DEFEAT IT.

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    2. YEs a variant indeed. I'm close to the snow in the air, just don't care point. I get this way in March. If it is going to melt within a few days of the snowfall, I'll just let it go. I'm not the eager beaver I am in Nov, dec, jan and feb.
      Oh and yes on that exhaust issue. UGH. Im all for an electric snow blower next time. I nearly ruined a pair of fun hand knit mittens last week.

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  7. Not me - LOL. I don't shovel. I stay inside. I don't have to go anywhere, so I don't really care if the driveway is clear or not. Plus, our driveway is gravel, so it is NEVER totally clear (until Spring).

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    1. Vera--You go to the grocery often enough, though, right? Your saving grace is a gravel drive. This whole thing would never have started if I had a gravel driveway.

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  8. You have to have a paved driveway to be able to do this. If you don't - and we don't - perhaps the obsession can be switched to shovelling paths to things. The bird feeder. The garage. The woodshed. And, for many years, the outhouse. Nice straight paths. This needs pictures, if I can find any.
    Hope your back holds out.

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    1. Mary--Yes, we have a concrete drive. The top, near the house and garage, is a wide area and also serves as a basketball court of sorts. It holds two cars. That is the part I really pay the most attention to. But the whole drive became part of the Obsession by default because I found that I couldn't stop. Sigh.

      And yes, my back is in full protest.

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  9. Do you really want ME to answer your question? Probably not.
    Your poor body. Your poor brain. You need help NANCE! I wonder if there is a Winter Intervention of sorts in the area?
    Really though, I'm sure after all the months of lockdown, it's solace to have something to work on daily. And really, it's keeping your heart rate up and your muscles are working on the daily. Maybe you can just limit yourself to ONE shoveling and then shut the front windows from the view? Move onto something less stressing on your brain and body?

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    1. BB Suz--LOL. We all have our little obsessions, don't we?

      Last night, my eldest son, Jared, sent me a text. "I read your blog..." and then there was a series of messages after that expressing concern, outrage, and overall worry. He tried to appeal to my sense of reason. "It's not just the falling. It's muscle pulls, your shoulder, your knees, you could hurt your back...then what?" He thinks I am frail. But I get it.

      I do need help. Help like NO MORE SNOW. A nice long, safe walk will do me good.

      Delete
  10. I am lucky that my oldest son lives with me and he LOVES to shovel. He is very methodical about it and has a definite pattern to how he shovels. He will use the snowblower if the snow is heavy and deep but usually he likes the crisp, clean results of the shovel. My driveway is a thing of beauty when he finishes. You would be so jealous! :)

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    1. Ellen D--I'm glad to hear that you have a lovely and clear driveway. I doubt I'd be jealous, however, because mine is the same. Right now, it is clear and dry, basking in the ACTUAL SUNSHINE. Your son and I would get along just fine. You have a good boy there, Ellen!

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  11. Hmmm. Well, I'm not afflicted with this need to clear the driveway in the way that you are. In fact, I often just ignore the snow and ice on the driveway and drive over it which packs it down so that it doesn't disappear until the spring thaw. I like how you know yourself so well, but am glad that you aren't living next door to me. You'd never speak to me based on how I/we don't tend our driveway.

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    1. Ally--NO ONE is afflicted like I am. It's patently ridiculous. I should be medicated.

      My next-door neighbour and buddy is not a snow removal junkie. She and her husband rarely shovel the driveway, and they never shovel the sidewalk. As a matter of fact, this last huge snow, they eventually hired someone to just plow them out in one big push. They just keep a small path cleared and salted from their side door to their car. The rest of the property is one big drift.

      We are friends and communicate cheerily and regularly. As do our husbands. I buy biscuits for their three charming dogs.

      It would be the same with you, no doubt! And I'd vastly prefer you to our other neighbours.

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  12. Well you know my thoughts about manual labor. I'm more of an if it's not ice then my car will do fine on it. In Ohio we didn't worry about the mail carrier because they would walk THROUGH THE YARD to get to our little front stoop. We did try to keep the stoop & short sidewalk from the driveway to the stoop clear. Well, that's all I would care about - Mike liked to at least shovel two grooves for the car tires. If his back had been stronger he would have been more like you. I will admit that our neighborhood in general didn't mess with the sidewalks. We were all slackers and I did not judge us. But come summer? People had BETTER not be blowing grass on the sidewalk or they would get major side eye from me.

    I wish I could send you some of my laissez-faire, but not really - your snow obsession is part of who you are & we do not need more people like me in the world! (However, for real, take care of your back!)

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    1. Bug--Oh, the mail carriers here use the lawns as well, but the route for mine takes him across my driveway to my little walk. I have a small fence that keeps him/her from using the yard to go directly to the next house, and some front landscaping.

      Rick is the one with the grass clipping thing. He gets annoyed if the next door neighbors don't blow theirs back onto their own property. I don't get it. It's not a hazard; it dries up in a day and will blow away; it seems harmless. I can still walk safely on a few grass clippings, and we can drive on them.

      However, I don't mow, so maybe it's a Person Who Mows kind of thing.

      Didn't you ever get tired of getting out of the car and slogging through snow and ice at your own home?

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    2. Mike always shoveled a little path from the back door to the garage - but frankly I sometimes would wish he hadn't because it seemed more treacherous than just walking on snow. That's because we didn't work hard enough to get every little bit off the path.

      For some reason the grass on our sidewalks would just sort of dry & stick to the concrete. It was weird - it would not blow away (at least not for a while). It bugged me when I'd take a walk & have to shuffle through it. Of course, I'm talking about the people who would mow once a month, so really it was hay baling they were doing. I was walking through hay. Ha!

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  13. Okay, you most likely know by now that SNOW is a four letter word we don't speak of here at our home. It's one of many 4-letter words, like IRON...they all spell work. But, I do know who to call on if I need a driveway cleaned.

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    1. Anni--Oh, it's a persona non grata around here as well. Especially after the last storm, we have had enough. We're sick of looking at it. It's been here forever.

      That being said, we have the wherewithal to deal with it, whether we like it or not, unlike the folks in your state. Goodness! What a terrible and tragic and unnecessary nightmare for you all.

      And yes, snow means work. Plain and simple. Those who love it and find it so wonderful consistently befuddle me.

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  14. I have never shoveled snow that I can remember. I find your crisp edges extremely satisfying, but I want the snow covered lawn to be prettier and not covered in dirty ice.

    When we lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, a bully was beating up my brother. I was probably 5 or 6, Richard was 7 or 8, and this thug was probably 10. What an ass. I clocked him over the head with a snow shovel and knocked him out. He never bothered us again.

    With all of that snow, in Alaska, and more recently in Tahoe, I guess it is pointless to shovel the snow. So people have studded tires, and the right shoes, and you just walk on it. Of course, as you know, the only time it is really dangerous is when it gets icy. I’m sure that happens in both places, but I don’t really remember it. As an adult, I have to say that I don’t really LIKE walking on snow or ice. I don’t want to fall and hurt myself.

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    1. J--I completely agree. Having to pile snow someplace makes the yard look terrible, even when it's not the ugly stuff I pile upon it. Right now, after a few days of above freezing temperatures and wind, all the snow is ugly, having melted into what it really is: dirty icy stuff, thanks to environmental factors. You can see all sorts of dark flecks in it.

      One of the biggest reasons I shovel is so that the snow doesn't turn to ice and become dangerous. Like you, I don't want to fall (although I have proven twice that I don't need snow or ice in order to do so).

      It sounds as if you made the most of your snow shovel skills way back when. LOL. What a tame and gentle life you grew into! Who would know, by looking at you now, that you could teach a class in Snow Shovel Self-Defense?

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  15. Hm-m-m — you may need professional help — to either clear the drive for you or provide counseling. You could apply heat to the drive or walkway — no, not your hair dryer. Our first house when we wed had a long drive but it was gravel so no shoveling there.

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    1. Joared--What I really need is a flamethrower. That would be incredible!

      Delete
  16. You are not alone and for me obviously living in Florida it isn't snow or shoveling it is pressure washing. Once I get started I can't stop. I will be out there for hours cleaning my driveway or outside by my pool. It hurts my neck, I get horrible headaches but I can't stop. I want it clean! The vibration in my arms from the machine makes them hurt, yet I can't stop. Now after writing this I just want to go out and clean something!!!!

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    1. Meredith--You get me! I know I'd be the same with a pressure washer, but I cannot stand the sound. Whenever anyone uses one, especially at the lake, it seems to go on for hours and hours and hours. Drives me nuts. It's incredibly satisfying work, however, to see the grime and dirt and mildew disappear. Rick is the power washer, and he does the boat, the lakehouse, the dock, and the deck. And anything else he can, usually, because once he's got it out, he gets a little crazed, too.

      We all have our little obsessions, don't we? What is it in our lives that make us crave that sense of completion and perfection?

      Delete

Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

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