Thursday morning I woke up, rolled over, stretched, then asked myself, "Good grief! Why on earth are my arms and shoulders so incredibly sore?"
Then I got out of bed, opened the blinds, looked out the window and remembered: on Wednesday I shoveled a foot of heavy, wet snow from my entire driveway, as well as the sidewalk in front of my house, up to my front door and off my front steps. When I got done, my driveway looked like this:
Which constitutes, I think, a reasonably good job of clearing the snow.
Last year I mentioned that during a period of particularly heavy snowfall, I had shoveled my driveway upwards of three times a day. This prompted a comment providing a link to an entry on someone else's blog about how stupid it is to shovel snow before it stops snowing, after which someone posted a comment on how there is no good reason to shovel the driveway three times in one day.
This all transpired at a really busy time in my life, when I was scarcely managing to blog at all, so I didn't respond. And while I didn't lose any sleep over the matter, I admit I have thought of that comment with resentment a time or two throughout the past year.
Because the fact of the matter is, as this Arizona native learned once after following what is cavalierly touted as the only sensible way to approach snow removal, i.e, waiting until the snow stops entirely before you try to remove it, there are a fucking hell of a lot of excellent reasons to shovel one's driveway three times in one day. They include not only every last goddamn inch of heavy snow you have to heft, but every inch of snow you have to heft the shovel over, as well as every single inch of driveway and sidewalk you have to clear, and every single minute you have to spend outside in nasty, nasty temperatures.
The thing is, snow looks all powdery and light, and when you pick it up to make a snowball, it is. But when it's on the ground, particularly when it's on concrete that has recently been retaining some heat so that the bottom couple of inches closet to that concrete melt a little and get soggy, then one foot of snow is PRETTY DAMN HEAVY. Whereas three feet of snow is SO GODDAMN FUCKING HEAVY it's impossible--yes, impossible--for someone like me to lift it. Not only that, but even if I COULD lift a shovel full of three feet of snow, I couldn't lift it high enough--clear up past my waist--to clear a three-foot high drift of snow, which, after a few shovel-fuls, would become shoulder-high, so that I'd have to lift the snow as high as my head.
I can't get out of my garage if there are three feet of snow in my driveway. But even if there's only a foot of snow there and I can drive over it if I want to without clearing it first, I have learned from doing exactly that, that's not a good idea either. First of all, packed snow gets really slippery. Furthermore, one day of warmer temperatures, so that the snow turns first to water and then to ice overnight when the temperature drops back down, is all it takes to turn your entire driveway into something it's unsafe to walk or drive on--particularly when you factor in drainage from gutters. If shoveling three feet of snow sucks, chipping eight inches of solid ice off the top of your driveway REALLY SUCKS.
So as I have learned the hard way, it is best to follow the example of my neighbors who have lived here for decades and to shovel the snow before it gets so deep it's unmanageable, even if that happens three times in one day.
(I would also note that unless you have one that is brand new and ultra high-powered, even snow blowers have problems with three feet of snow. The only thing that easily clears three feet of snow from a driveway is a snow plow, but that can do a lot of damage to plants, lawns, and even the driveway itself. Mercifully the one year we got FIVE feet of snow in one storm my neighbor was driving a snow plow for extra cash, and he cleared my driveway for me, free of charge and with the utmost care. Otherwise, I would have been snowed in for several days.)
p.s. Yes, it's not just my arms and shoulders but the entire subject that's a sore spot. Don't give me advice on this topic unless you personally have shoveled your way out of three feet of snow in the past year.