My New Year’s resolution is to shovel more and mow less.
It’s a very lazy resolution, because if I stick to it, I’ll actually be saving a lot of energy.
When the wind is blowing and the snow is swirling, it is very tempting to huddle in the house, drinking hot chocolate, eating the last fragments of Christmas cookies and reading the book that kept getting put off when the weather was nice.
An unexpectedly abrupt snowstorm last week brought out all the sloth in me, but I steadfastly stuck by the resolution.
If I had waited until the storm was over, the snow would have piled up and shoveling it would have been an exhausting chore.
Besides, the longer snow sits, the more it has time to settle and the harder it is to shovel.
As an experiment, I set a timer for one-hour intervals, and shoveled the hourly accumulations. Keeping the front sidewalk, the path to the bird feeders, the woodpile and the garage clear, was the work of only a few minutes each time, and the buildup was light and easily removed. A couple of times the buildup was so light I could just sweep it aside.
As a bonus, the work was just enough exercise to make the house feel comfortably warm when I went back inside, which kept me from having to split more wood or turn the heat up. Also, keeping an open space beneath the bird feeders meant I had plenty of ground feeders to watch.
Of course, there is a hazard associated with clearing a path if the snow is fine and “dry.” Wind can drift snow in from the rest of the yard, filling in the cleared spaces with a hard-packed, heavy base.
True. But nothing’s perfect. My usual solution is to simply move the path one shovel-width to the side, where the snow is less packed. After all, why keep shoveling down to a slippery concrete walkway when you can clear a short-cut across the less slippery lawn? The ground is frozen now anyway, so the shovel isn’t damaging the roots.
So, confronted by deep, heavy snow, what are some lazy options? Assuming you don’t have a youthful neighbor who likes to earn some dollars or cookies with a shovel, you just take shorter scoops each time.
Luckily, the slick under-track on my treadmill wore out recently, and I had to replace it with a plastic track that kept sticking. A friend told me to spray silicone on it. It worked. So, I tried the same spray on my shovel and no longer have to whack it every three or four scoopfuls to dislodge the tenacious snow.
If it gets so bad I can’t keep up, I’ll cut back on the front walk and woodpile first. I’ve already brought in enough wood for a prolonged siege. Passersby will have to make do with a narrow path.
The bird feeders are mandatory, for the birds and for my own entertainment. The garage is mandatory too. Not that I need to get the truck out, but when the temperature plummeted, I put a stray tomcat into the garage and he has so far declined to leave.
So, that takes care of my low energy shoveling resolution, and I have a few more months to plan my mowing strategy.
For one thing, mowing a lawn is a vicious cycle: You mow it, so it dries out faster, so you water it, so it grows faster, so you mow it… etc., etc., etc.
Maybe my best option will be to just put off mowing until next winter’s snow covers it up.
Best wishes for 2019!