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Yooooooo, we got a foot of fresh powder around here the other day, and you know what that means! Yeah, shoveling. OK, yeah, I guess it’s maybe more like eight inches, but the point is, I am out here with my shovel and I am absolutely fucking shredding it. I will post some of my GoPro stuff later, as soon as I have some time to sit down and edit it a little bit.
All I can say is this is it, right now. If you shovel, you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t shovel, look, I’m not trying to be a jerk, but this is not the time to just go out and buy a shovel and “give it a try.” It’s so deep out there right now that you might as well stay home, be safe, and wait for it to consolidate a bit. I’m pretty sure our new neighbor threw out his back this morning, got in a little over his head.
For some of us, shoveling is in our blood. You might not know it if you see us walking around town any other time of year, but yeah, we are just waiting for snow-removal season to begin. Been shoveling since we were six, eight years old, or even younger. First to buy tickets to the Warren Miller shoveling films every year, just to start priming the psych pump, waxing our shovels weeks before the temperature even drops in the fall, and checking the weather every single day from October 1 onward. OK, yeah, several times a day. You never know. I just want to be ready.
I know a lot of people don’t even get their stuff out until after some of those early-season snowfalls—me, I’m out there, fully kitted out, flipping a vague dusting of flakes off my shovel, even if from 100 feet away it might look like I’m shoveling air. Sure, it’s not enough to cause a slipping and falling hazard to even the most visibly intoxicated passerby, and, arguably, it’s not going to stick and will probably melt by the afternoon, but I’m out there going for it. Even when the mail carrier is staring at me with a very puzzled look on his face and going, “Why don’t you just use a broom?” He just doesn’t understand shoveling. As my old neighbor Grace used to say when we’d be out shoveling across the street from each other, there are two types of people in this world: those who appreciate the adrenaline rush of voluntary residential snow removal and sidewalk maintenance, and those who will never know true joy in their lives because of that snow-shovel-shaped hole in their soul that they may not even know is there.
When there’s a big dump in my neighborhood, you have to get up early to get the good stuff, because our retired neighbor, Don, puts a big blade on his lawn mower and then goes around the block with it, which is a nice thing to do and all, especially for folks who aren’t that into shoveling, but man, the first time I slept in a little bit and missed my chance, looking out there to see an already-cleared sidewalk—it was not a joyous experience. From that day forward, I’ve risen before dawn, just to make sure I get first tracks.
Days like this, when it just keeps coming down, people get tired. Not me. I’m out there every three hours with a smile on my face, just ripping. Of course, I’ve been doing this long enough, I don’t rush, I know how to use my legs, focusing on making the perfect turn of the shovel, which we all know is almost for sure unattainable, like true enlightenment. City snowplow comes by and plows in our driveway? I’m over here like, Fuck yeah, bring it on. More fun for me.
Every year, at least once, I’m out there just charging, and somebody comes by and says, “Wow, this looks like so much fun. What’s the best way to get started?” I tell them what I’ll tell you: Sure, there are YouTube videos on how to do it, and people who sell shovels at the hardware store are always good for some advice, but the only real way to learn is to just get a shovel and get out there and do it. I’ll warn you, though: it might change your life.
Brendan Leonard’s new book, I Hate Running and You Can Too, is available now.