Here in Colorado, “we need the moisture” is the oft-repeated phrase in response to precipitation. And with rare exception, such as happened 4 years ago when 18 inches of rain (near our annual average) fell in 2 days, its true. Snowpack is what we measure here, and a good (average or higher) depth suggests that there will be enough water for the year to come, and a lesser likelihood of forest fires. This year, we’re behind, many areas of the state with less than half the average for this time of year. Not desperate yet, particularly as our heaviest snowfall tends to be in March and April, but there’s some concern.
This morning, greeted by snow, my concerns are different. Now its time for a snow-removal strategy. This is my 31st winter in this house, so I’m pretty good at clearing my driveway and walks efficiently. I do a long strip down the center of the driveway, then angle off to each side from there. That both clears the driveway, and distributes the removed snow in a reasonable fashion.
Addressing the sidewalks brings in other requirements. First, getting the snow off the walk. Next, and equally important, is placement of the removed snow. Not in the gutters, where it will freeze and thaw and create ice dams that can take weeks to resolve if it stays cold for a while. I head out to shovel, joining my neighbor J already hard at work, her dogs cavorting and enjoying the snow. Down the street, K is clearing her walk and driveway as well.
Its common on my street that the early snow shovelers are women. I don’t know why, whether we are the early risers, or that we place a greater priority or value on having cleared walks. I do know, in my many years of living here, that the women exhibit much more of a commitment to the common good. We often clear a neighbors sidewalk in addition to our own, and K regularly clears the space in front of our group mailboxes, poorly situated on a north facing walk shaded by a house to the south.
BA comes out as J and I are finishing our drives and walks. Then we shovel our way down to the end of the block where the mailboxes are. K thanks us, saying “I just hate slipping on the ice to get to the mail, that’s why I clear it”. BA and I agree, that’s why we have just cleared the path from our house. Some may feel like we are doing unnecessary work, but for us, it’s a strategy for living more comfortably with snow and ice.
We do need the moisture, and we don’t want to struggle with ice. So we shovel strategically. The snow is still falling, providing ample opportunity to revise our strategies and try a different approach should we choose.