Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Jobs

No, I’m not talking about what we get from Congress. I’m talking about the mighty dumps of light and fluffy (if you’re lucky) or heavy and wet (if you’re not) white stuff that we’ve seen this year.

So far here in NoVa we’ve had a pretty quiet winter. Aside from the seven or eight inches of snow we had last Monday night and into Tuesday, we’ve not had more than a bit of dusting* so far, in comparison to the long-suffering residents of Boston, who will probably be digging out until Labor Day. We tend to get more sleet and freezing rain than snow around here, although given the choice, I’d rather have the snow.

Snow. It can be soft and beautiful, dropping a blanket of gleaming white over landscapes that are otherwise drab and unsightly. It can call to mind sleigh rides, snowball fights, fun times spent zipping down hills on sleds, and anxious nights spent watching the skies for the arrival of Santa Claus.

It can also mean pulled muscles, heart attacks, bones broken in icy falls, traffic accidents, and havoc wreaked on school schedules.

Guess which one I’m talking about.

Yes, Dear Readers, that seven inches of snow that fell on us was a lot easier to shovel away when I was 23 than it is now that I’m 63. And I’m getting to be a lot crabbier about it, too.

Grouchy Curmudgeon Rant Ahead – You’ve Been Warned

I take my responsibilities as a good neighbor seriously. When it’s done snowing, I bundle myself up, grab my trusty shovel, and clean off my sidewalks. It’s the right thing to do, of course, to keep people from slipping and injuring themselves … and our local government encourages us to do it ( In response to the question, “Who is responsible for clearing snow from the sidewalks in my neighborhood?”, the Fairfax County website says,

“Neither the state nor the county clears snow and ice from public walkways (sidewalks and trails). While not legally obligated, residents and businesses are asked to help keep sidewalks safe. They should, as soon as feasible, clear snow off the sidewalks in front of their property so that all pedestrians, especially school children, those with disabilities and the elderly, may walk securely. Homeowner associations may require members of their communities to clear walkways abutting their property.”

They even provide a helpful graphic …

Now, I can hear all my conservative and libertarian friends complaining about the hideous spectre of government overreach … It’s my sidewalk, dammit, and if I think it needs shoveled, I’ll shovel it, and nobody in government has the right to tell me to do it!!

Of course, if we were all community-minded citizens, as concerned about each other’s welfare as about our personal freedoms, we wouldn’t need laws and gently hectoring websites that encourage us to do the right thing. But I can tell you from experience that a lot of people won’t shovel that snow. In my neighborhood, it’s usually easier to walk in the middle of the half-plowed street than it is to try to pick one’s way along sidewalks only intermittently shoveled. And some of the worst offenders are the folks who have bus stops in front of their homes … there’s nothing like standing in the slippery street as the bus slides toward you because people refused to shovel their sidewalks.

Okay, I’m done fulminating for now. But when winter comes, please do your part. All us fragile old geezers-in-training will thank you for it.

Have a good day. Keep the sidewalks clean. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Back home in Pittsburgh, we used to say that it didn’t count as a snowfall unless there was enough on the ground that you could track a cat.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

Yes, snow shoveling can be dangerous! It's maybe better not to try to do it all at one crack! Be careful when you shovel, Bilbo!
I would prefer snow to sleet and ice too. But my first choice is no snow. I slipped yesterday and have a big bruise you know where!

Linda Kay said...

Having survived a broken ankle from a fall on ice, I have a lot of respect for encouraging cleaning off the stuff...and this fall was in a hotel parking lot. But be careful. You probably don't get enough to warrant a snow blower, right? Might be a fun toy to have, however. And guys need toys.

Grand Crapaud said...

I tried clearing my driveway and was out of commission for the rest of the day. I hate snow and ice!

Anemone said...

Snow and cold is yucky! I had enough of it in Sitka,

Mike said...

It actually is in our city laws that you are required to shovel the snow off your sidewalks. Not that I've heard of the city enforcing the law, but it's there.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

You and Rick must talk. I've been hearing this rant this week from inside my house. old geezers perhaps? :-)