I shoveled some driveways when I was a teenager, made some money. Up here in Canada that meant I got a lot of practice. Over time I tried a lot of different techniques and settled on favorites depending on the amount and type of snow. What works great for a light dusting, doesn't work at all for a heavy wet snow: I'm not strong enough, and the shovel isn't big enough. What works for a heavy wet snow is wasted movement for a lighter dusting.

These days even with a good couple inches of snow I can finish our driveway before Allison can get the kids into snow suits and out the door. This is good because for everything 5 year olds have in enthusiasm they lack in skill and direction (It's not uncommon for Alexander to pick up a shovel of snow from the side, and walk it over to hand it to pour on my shovel, which is adorable, but not productive.)

So I'm good at it, and pretty fast.

After a pretty significant snow fall today, the plow went by, pushing half the snow from our street onto our driveway. A neighbour offered to loan me their snow blower to clean it off, and I gratefully accepted, and I learned something.

Using a snow blower is VERY DIFFERENT than shovelling.

  • Wind, oh my gosh wind. Which way the wind is blowing matters so much more. Half the time I was clearing the sidewalk I was essentially using the snow blower as a Rube Goldberg machine to move the snow from the sidewalk to my mouth, via the wind.
  • Your clearing pattern changes completely. When shovelling you can stop and move a foot over and go again super quickly, with a snow blower it takes 10x as long.
  • There's an art around how you want to handle turns I don't quite grasp yet. Most snow blowers include tires or treds that move together, so on their own they only go straight forwards and backwards. This makes turning a challenge.
  • The chute that lets you direct the wind has a 190° arc available, plus a 45° vertical adjustment. I have no idea how to use these effectively. I was occasionally able to stop waterboarding myself with snow, but that seems more like random chance than actual learning.

Thanks to all the neighbours who clear sidealks and drivewas for each other, and to those who loan out snow blowers :).

Photo by Lauren Hedges from Pexels