The Lesson of Shoveling Snow

I love winter. I love the early nights, the chill in the air, the close, warm feeling of being snug at home. I love snow in the trees and the yard. Winter would be perfect except for one thing:

Driveways and sidewalks.

You can't just not shovel the snow off your concrete. That's not an option as a civilized person. I walk whenever and wherever I can, and when I'm walking in the winters I realize how much public utility there really is in our personal patches of sidewalk. Also, you've got delivery people who need to come to your door, guests, friends, and even me and my family. I need to clear that concrete so people are safe.

So Here's the Actual Lesson

When you're shoveling snow there are a few secrets:

  1. If possible, do it when there is still daylight left

Okay, turns out there's only one secret. But it's a potent one. I used to get frustrated, trying to figure out why my neighbor's sidewalk and driveway always looked like he cut the edges with a razor, while mine looked messy, covered in ground-down footprints and tire tracks, and crumbly edges that kept dumping powder back on my driveway I had just cleared. Eventually I would give up and go in, calling it good enough.

Then I'd look back outside a few hours later, surprised to find that it had been good enough. All the powder melted off, all the footprints and tire tracks had softened and I could get rid of them quickly.

The sunlight on wet, dark concrete heats that concrete juuuuust enough to melt snow (unless it's really cold, in which case you're on your own. Sorry!), so if you get the concrete exposed it does a lot of work for you. It doesn't work if you don't shovel, of course. Snow is reflective, so if you don't put in the work you don't get any benefit.

But you don't have to be perfect! Often we are super-critical of our own efforts and see every possible flaw in what we do while idolizing the work or results of those around us. And that can lead us to despair or depression or just giving up before we even start.

Instead if we just get in there and get started, we will get far better results than we would ever have imagined.