Friday, December 28, 2007

Being Wise on a Snowy Day

It's back — winter and snow, I mean. After huge mountains of white were reduced to only large mountains of white by a day of rain on Sunday, we had a new fall yesterday, with more expected in the next few days. Which means that after week of respite it is high time for AC to get out and shovel.

But I don't mind shovelling. In fact, my perverse side rather enjoys it ... up to a point at least. It's good exercise, and it's usually not too much of a strain if one applies a modicum of common sense. You do need to be cautious, however, because snow-shovelling can be dangerous: hard on the heart. During the pre-Christmas accumulations, for example, a 45 year-old man in our town dropped dead in his driveway after shovelling.

That's why Cuppa worries and frets when I get out there. But while nothing is completely safe, I don't think she needs to worry much because I try to exercise caution and vigilance over my body as much as possible. When I feel that I'm beginning to breathe too hard, I pause and lean on my shovel. Sometimes, to reinforce the necessity of taking it easy, I actually put the implement down and/or move back into the edge of the garage and lean against the car. I catch my breath a little before re-commencing to push more snow around.

I try my best to enjoy what I am doing: the exercise, the invigorating air, the chance to wave at a neighbour or two. I think that's a key: to see it as an enjoyable opportunity and not just an odious chore to be dealt with as quickly as possible because I'm pretty sure that's when the catastrophes occur. Snow-shovelling and many other chores really can be enjoyable if we go about them in the right frame of mind.

I learned some this from my father. He had a bad hernia, but he'd get out there frequently and just sweep the snow aside. While that approach wouldn't have worked with our excessive pre-Christmas dumping, it often worked for him during ordinary winters. While I don't have a hernia, I try to follow his example by attending to the snow frequently. On one or even two days a week or two ago, I went out at least three times, so that no single shovelling event became too onerous. Fortunately, nice neighbour with the snow blower came to the rescue the few times that the load got a bit beyond comfort level.

Maybe, there's a certain wisdom that comes with age (not that I'm terribly old, but, at sixty, I'm no longer young either). I find that the younger set doesn't always get it that less can be more. For example if one needs to shift a load from here to there, making two trips carrying fewer bags or boxes can actually be easier than overloading oneself so that it can be accomplished in one trip, thereby possibly saving a whole minute or two. It's the same with shovelling snow. Three light shovellings can be a lot easier than one big one, especially if you slow down enough to enjoy it.

So ... I don't think Cuppa needs to worry when I head back out there to do my duty in a little later this morning. But she will.


thailandchani said...

I'm not sure I could ever see it as anything but an odious task.. but then, I'm from California. :)

Donna said...

I know you are well trained by now with the years of experience of shoveling snow but...BE CAREFUL! Yes, you have a friend in Texas that worries too much to! lol
Get warm and have a happy day!!

Ruth said...

I have a big scoop and a light ergonomic shovel. The right tools can reduce strain on the muscles and the heart. It is raining here right now :-(

mreddie said...

I'm sure it would get old hat if I lived in a snowy area but I find myself longing to shovel snow - dirt is just not the same. Good advice nonetheless and would fit with any physically active chore. ec

nina at Nature Remains. said...

My husband is fond of splitting wood--for the same reasons.
It's basically a mindless activity, that allows your thoughts to wander off. And the exertion (don't overdo!) is a great stress-buster.
Most of his days are spent fussing behind a desk and trouble-shooting others' problems.
So, outdoor chores are a get-away!

Anonymous said...

You actually had rain.. oh my goodness.. talk about extremes. Do you now have a layer of ice separating the layers of snow? That would be a little tricky, I would think.

Bonita said...

I also don't mind breaking large jobs into smaller ones. Sometimes, that is the only way to get started - it doesn't seem so overwhelming. I love your attitude about the fresh air, greeting neighbors, and generally enjoying the unfoldment of the day. Way to go....have a happy new year, AC.