PHOTO: A thoughtful pose of a critic at large. Kathleen Gerds photo
I keep telling myself that. This year, I keep telling myself over and over and over.
There’s not much else to think about when you’re shoveling.
What do you think about? I bet it’s not E equals m c squared.
I think about which shovel to use at the moment. I have two main ones. There’s a pusher that’s for light cover or fluffy snow; I can cover a lot of territory fast with that one. There’s the lifter for hefting mounds of snow. I also sweep the back porch and steps so we don’t slip and fall coming out of or into the house.
Shoveling makes you a better person because it gets you out of the house. Otherwise you would be warm and dry. You don’t want too much of that.
Shoveling makes you a better person because you get fresh air. Fresh air is good for you, we’ve always been told. Fresh air at minus 10 degrees with the wind at 15 miles and hour, however, is not good for you and makes you a frozen person.
Shoveling makes you a better person because you get to vent your frustrations and let loose a colorful vocabulary with each oof – lift of the shovel in heavy snow. Sometimes a word or phrase slips out, and I look at a bent figure in the next driveway and think, “Gee, I hope the neighbor guy didn’t hear that.” The eightysomething-year-old neighbor lady across the street wouldn’t hear it. She’s using a snowblower. (Really).
Speaking of neighbors, shoveling makes you a better person because you are A Good Neighbor. Driving through other neighborhoods where there is A Bad Neighbor here and there with an unshoveled sidewalk and driveway, we Good Neighbors feel superior because WE and our other Really Nice Good Neighbors have shoveled OUR snow and have done what we are supposed to do to keep the neighborhood neat and tidy – or at least have nice stacks of snow all around.
Shoveling makes you a better person because you get exercise. So far this season, we snow shoveling exercisers are a., feeling buff to the point of posing in front of the mirror like Arnold Schwarzenegger (40 years ago) or b., fully aware of why that lifter-elbow creaks and why that spot in the lower back feels like something is pinching it.
Shoveling makes you a better person because it gives you something to complain about without hurting anybody’s feelings.
Shoveling makes you a better person because you can make people jealous in
Shoveling makes you a better person because it gives you a Zen experience. You think in a methodical way, reach a mental state near reverie. That hasn’t happened for you? Try again.
Shoveling makes you a better person because it gives you a sense of accomplishment. “Ah, look at that sidewalk, that driveway – they’re practically licked clean. And look at what I built – beautiful mounds of snow. I never get to build anything that big otherwise. And look at that long snow bank that I made. Wow, all the shoveling that that took really amounted to something. I kind of hate to see spring come because all my hard work will go away.”
Shoveling makes you a better person because folks driving past smile and or wave at you in knowing ways. You feel a kinship, a sense of community, a sharing, a mutual knowledge of being that Good Neighbor.
Shoveling makes you a better person because you recognize your mortality. After a round of huffing and puffing, HUFFING and PUFFING for 400 or 500 times, if you are able to make it back into your house you know you are alive. If that doesn’t happen, your worries are over.
You may email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Watch for my on-air features on WFRV at 6:45 p.m. Thursdays and every other Sunday between 6 and 8 a.m. (usually around 7:45 a.m.)