New Englanders take a variety of approaches to snow removal. Here we present Yankee’s guide to snow shoveling, mainly so that we don’t have to go out and do it ourselves.
By Ken Sheldon
Jan 18 2016
The Yankee Guide to Snow Shoveling | Only in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Mark Brewer
Some winters are notable for specific storms, such as the Great Blizzard of 1888 and the Northeastern Storm of 1978. Then there are winters remembered for their sheer obstinacy, like 2014–15, which went on longer than the Black Death but was more depressing. New Englanders take a variety of approaches to snow removal. Here we present Yankee’s guide to snow shoveling, mainly so that we don’t have to go out and do it ourselves.
The minimalist’s goal is to clear a space just big enough to park his car, no more. This also gives him the advantage of privacy, since, after about the third storm, the piles of snow on either side of his car make it invisible from the road. Pulling out onto the street involves saying a quick prayer, gunning it, and hoping for the best. He’s met many of his neighbors this way, mostly to share insurance information.
This person actually enjoys winter’s worst chore—even without benefit of medication—which just goes to show that it takes all kinds. If there’s more than an inch of snow, he’s out there shoveling, and he goes back out every two minutes so that he can “keep ahead of it.” As exercise goes, he figures it’s cheaper than a membership at FitnessWorld and doesn’t require him to wear anything involving Spandex.
Woefully unprepared for winter, this type can’t be bothered to zip up her jacket, lace her boots, or put on a hat every time it snows. Her only goal is clearing a path to the mailbox so that she can get her copy of Meditation Monthly to maintain her inner peace. Last year, her inner peace blew a gasket after the fifth blizzard and took off for Bermuda.
Despite the availability of newer, high-tech models, this fellow is still using his old metal shovel, which weighs more than the hood of his ’67 Chevy pickup. Also known as “The Heavy Heaper,” he likes to demonstrate what a he-man he is by putting as much snow as possible on each scoop, a practice that over the years has allowed his chiropractor to buy a boat, put braces on his kids’ teeth, and take winter vacations to places where there’s no snow.
This type tosses snow with the care and precision of a Category 5 hurricane, little knowing or caring whether it lands in the street, in his neighbor’s driveway, or on top of passing pedestrians. What he lacks in neatness he makes up for in speed, which leaves him time to get back to more important winter tasks, like staying on top of his fantasy football league team.
This person falls prey to every late-night commercial for “the easy way to remove snow and ice.” Over the years, she’s purchased ergonomically designed shovels (from the Greek ergon, meaning “silly-looking”), electric shovels (essentially, weed-whackers for snow), and even a remote-controlled robotic shovel, which removes snow quietly, neatly, and just in time to haul the grill out for the July Fourth barbecue. None of these gadgets works, but she keeps trying. Note that she’s also been married four times.
By the end of last January, this guy had developed a seriously bad attitude. Determined to put winter in its place, he bought a propane device designed for those who don’t want to remove snow but to destroy it. He wields this tool while shouting, “Die! Die!” When he returns to the house he mumbles, “I’ll be back …” His friends and family are nervous.
An analytical sort, this person approaches shoveling like the Allied landing at Normandy. He has determined the best pattern to clear his driveway in the least amount of time with the fewest strokes. He also has a precise pattern for arranging lights on the Christmas tree, carving the turkey, and loading the dishwasher after dinner. You don’t want to be stuck talking to him at a party.