No way around it

Who wants to shovel? Who wants to shovel at night, because you know that there’s no time in the morning, unless you wake up earlier than you already do, after hitting the hay as late as you already do?

No one, that’s who! It’s a chore for a reason. It’s not Happy-fun-tickle-me-unicorns-with-rainbows-on-top time. It’s get out the scraper and scrape time.

Like cooking, like laundry, water management is biological and demanding. When it came to winter, I learned long ago, that whatever snow I skipped early on, stayed put all winter.  And whatever I cleared, stayed cleared most of the winter.  In building, the consequences of action or non-action endure. Nature prevails in the face of apathy.

I’m especially dedicated to this particular slab of concrete, our driveway. Installed recently (in concrete years) by one of our community’s finest grading, concrete and landscaping contractors, the drive stands the barrier to water into our home, and conducts by swale and sluice the water that flows between ours and our neighbor’s house to the north. It’s alpeckham-landscaping-contact-info

ot of water, and the storms seem to be dumping more. Whatever my cost-per-hour to shovel and keep it dry, I’m certain it’s cheaper than the cost-per-hour of bringing in a crew to dig it out and rebuild it, should ice and freezing and thawing work their indifferent and rock-splitting ways. Shoveling is cheap insurance.

It’s labor, necessary and inevitable. If for no other reason than to keep the mind involved, how best to approach this? Who cares if today’s solution is the best, or if there may be some better way. Assume there’s a better way, and find it! Can’t it be fruitful, to think about most-efficient clearing patterns, just for the hell of it?

A few tips, to make shoveling easier:

  1. Get a good, solid scraper, like this one that I picked up over at Ace on Willy.*
  2. Wear foam ear plugs, or something other form of ear protection. Scraping, shoveling, and snow blowing make a lot of noise, and the sound can overwhelm your other senses and your heart. I can’t stress the need for ear protection enough, in most aspects of building.
  3. Take the time to do the work! Don’t skip! Skipping a snowfall or two can create ice and slipping hazards that can shatter the hip or ankle of the most spry among us. Five extra minutes of your time might save your housemate, or a guest — or even you — months of recovery and rehab.

For a long city drive like ours (mostly 100′ long x 11′ wide, on our narrow, eastside lot), I’ve found that breaking the plane up into swaths of long semi-circles, seems to be the most efficient.  Maybe on some rainy afternoon, I’ll look into what the baseball field crews do as they mow and tend those lawns – I’m sure they’ve got a few tricks.

Taking a moment to enjoy the winter light
Taking a moment to enjoy the winter light

Like most things I grumble about, I never remember the time involved, after it’s all said and done. It’s just done. Winter wins eventually, but I’ll keep playing the game for now.

*After you grab your scraper and hardware, head across the street to Batch Bakehouse. Everything is so speedy and delicious — why wouldn’t you? Are you communist or something?

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