Last Sunday I bundled up to clear the six inches of snow that fell overnight. Six inches is not a lot of snow, and with a temperature of only 12°F, it was light and fluffy. The problem was, and usually is, the end of the driveway. The snowplow snow.
It’s a messy mix of snow and ice piled up at the end of the driveway after the city plow comes through. It's heavy and chunky and challenging to move.
Because it was only six inches, and it was early (just seven o’clock in the morning), I decided to forgo the snowblower and shovel my way out.
Like most projects, there are things to consider when starting out, and I realized my plan for clearing the snow was really an exercise in project management.
Lesson #1: Assess the situation
Shoveling a path out was the first step. After the porch and stairs were clear, I needed to tackle the driveway surface, remove the snowplow snow from the end of the driveway, and clean off the car.
Lesson #2: Make sure you have the right tools for the job
Snow shovels come in as many varieties and flavors as ice cream. There’s the big scoop and the small scoop. Metal and plastic varieties. And varying weights. Some shovels are light and easy to handle, others are heavy.
After years of testing, my preference is a light-weight, flat scoop.
Why? There’s a lot of lifting involved and I don’t like adding extra weight from the shovel itself. The bigger the scoop, the more snow it holds, and the harder it is to lift.
Lesson #3: Make a plan
Once the porch and stairs were clear, I decided to use an alternating pattern of removal. Because the snowplow snow is so heavy, I decided to clear it bit by bit. I cleared 1/3 of the driveway, moved on to a two-foot wide section of the snowplow snow, then switched to brushing off the car. Another two-foot section of snowplow snow, brush, shovel, and repeat.
The plan allowed me minimize exertion (recommended), make slow and steady progress, and vary the tasks at hand to avoid frustration.
Lesson #4: Stand back and assess your progress
When I started, it seemed it would take forever to get through the end of the driveway. But when I stopped to take a breath, I could see, bit by bit, I was making progress. My plan was working.
Lesson #5: Find pleasure in the doing
When I stopped to check my progress, I took a deep breath and looked up. I saw that the sky was robin’s egg blue. And I noticed the light. The sun was still rising and it put a glow on the horizon, the tree tops ... and the underbelly of a seagull that flew overhead.
It was a beautiful winter day and it felt like the reward for a job well done.
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