Thoughts on Shoveling Snow

While Cedar City does have winter, often bitingly cold, if not nearly so cold as Canadian winters, it does reach below zero [Fahrenheit] temperatures a handful of times most winters, and most winter nights have sub-freezing temperatures. We also have lots of wind. Because at almost 6,000 feet, Cedar City is high desert, we don’t get huge amounts of snow, but it does tend to stay around, and we usually get 2-5 significant snowfalls, significant being more than a foot where I live. And because I do walk a lot for exercise, half on trails and half on streets/sidewalks, when this occurs, as it has in the last few weeks, I do notice which houses evidence snow removal, which do not, and how much is cleared, either by shovel, snow-blower, or plow.

There are those houses, thankfully a minority, where no snow ever appears to be shoveled, and where the inhabitants merely pack down the snow into a solid mass on driveways and sidewalks. Eventually, this turns to ice or a reasonable facsimile thereof. In time, in our dry air, it eventually sublimates, but not before causing slips and falls.

Then there are those houses where only the driveway is shoveled, clearly indicating that the thought that anyone walks anywhere except from or to a vehicle has never occurred to the inhabitants. Next come the houses where the sidewalk to the street and/or mailbox is shoveled, as well as the driveway, but nothing else.

Finally, there are the houses where every walk and driveway is shoveled/cleared. Ours fits this category, except for the redwood deck that’s effectively unusable in winter and inaccessible except from inside the house – although I do clear the access to the bird feeder.

In observing all the different stages of snow removal or lack thereof, certain thoughts have occurred to me. First, clearing sidewalks – especially the walks other than those providing access to house, mailbox, or vehicle – is essentially a matter of both courtesy and safety to others.

Second, snow removal appears to be largely deficient in those dwellings harboring teenagers and young adults, except as necessary to obtain vehicle access.

Third, a high percentage of older couples still manage snow removal, although, understandably, it often takes them longer.

Fourth, after one or two winters, a certain percentage of retirees who moved here from California decide to move south.

Fifth, I’m really glad I have both a snow-blower and an ergonomic snow shovel.

10 thoughts on “Thoughts on Shoveling Snow”

  1. Bob Vowell says:

    And then you have the guy who clears past their own property.

  2. Wine Guy says:

    Makes sense: teenagers and young adults do not fear falling… even if they do, they just bounce up and keep going (usually). And courtesy is difficult when most people do not know their neighbors.

    When I was younger and living in a place that got snow, my parents would routinely send me across the street and also over to the next block to shovel the steps, stoops, walkways, and driveways of some of the neighbors. It is a habit I’ve kept up – shoveling my next door neighbor’s driveway when necessary. I don’t make my daughters do it (yet – once they’re teenagers, they’ll do it, even if they whine the whole time) but it is a good quid pro quo as well: when I’m gone, my neighbor watches the house and feeds the animals (no, I’m not referring to my kids).

  3. larry says:

    No (enforced) “legal requirements”?

    Where I live, all public access-ways must be shoveled within a certain time limit. Mail won’t be delivered unless the mailbox area (street or walk to the house) is cleared.
    Falls, on icy sidewalks, prompt lawsuits w/the home owner.

    Well beyond courtesy — a public safety issue…

    1. I’d agree… but I’ve never seen any enforcement here.

  4. John Prigent says:

    Well, over here 29 miles south of London UK we dont’ get much snow – but when we do the public services can’t cope. Only main roads are gritted, and pavements (sidewalks to you Americans) only get cleared by shopkeepers. So I go out with my shovel and broom to clear enough to move my car from the drive, then deal with my bit of the pavement, and then go along to one house where I know the widow in it isn’t up to much shovelling and clear her bit of the pavement. This is _after_ her neighbours either side have cleared their own driveways but left pavement uncleared. Sometimes I clear a narrow path along their bits to try and shame them into doing the rest, but it never seems to work. Sigh.

  5. Tim says:

    To @John Prigent. Have a care John. If you look at

    You get this statement for UK law…

    “You can clear snow and ice from pavements yourself. It’s unlikely that you’ll be sued or held responsible if someone is injured on a path or pavement if you’ve cleared it carefully”.

    The strong implication is that you can be sued, and this has happened on several occasions when the snow was cleared but the underlying ice was not. So someone slipped… and sued.

    We really need to leave the EU

    1. Grey says:

      Getting sued for a slip-and-fall on snow or ice was always a concern where I grew up in the US. Hence, I was sent out with the shovel and bag of ice from a young age…

  6. Lourain says:

    I find shovelling snow to be a very soothing occupation. (The amount of snow we receive varies from year to year–from nothig up to

    I find shoveling snow to be a very soothing occupation. (Although the amount we receive varies from nothing to 18-36 inches a winter–usually all at once.) Definitely not enough to justify a snow blower. Just as well, I do not like the noise…I would rather listen to the winter birds.
    We are very rural, so no near neighbors to help or be helped, but the notion of neighbors helping neighbors has nearly disappeared. 🙁
    Since we live on a school-bus route, the roads are cleared (sort of). Walking along roads after a snow would be taking your life in your hands. Better to get my exercise shoveling the drive!

  7. Corwin says:

    One of the many reasons I love living in Australia; where I live many people have never even seen snow. 🙂

  8. Randy says:

    I had to smile because this brought to mind when my father-in-law visited us in Virginia right after the “Snowmageddon” event in 2010. He lived most of his life in South Florida, with the exception of his brief service in the Air Force. He had never been faced with the finer points of shoveling snow.

    He started to shovel a walkway from my back deck to the community trail around the lake. I guess he got carried away because he shoveled by whole back yard – all of it. He also shoveled a good portion of community walk for about fifty yards in each direction of the house.

    We caught up to him and stopped him while he was in the process of shoveling my whole front yard. It started with the driveway, but then you wouldn’t want to step in show while getting out of the car, and then it kind of looked odd that there were five foot swaths of cleared snow on each side of the driveway… No, the tree in the middle of the front yard does not need to be shoveled clear.

    It was a good laugh and I guess he was a little bored while I was at work and wanted to be productive. I tactically never brought up this subject to my neighbors – that snow from all of my back yard and front yard had to go somewhere.

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