The lost of art of shovelling

In the last month, here in the outskirts of Toronto, we have really been getting hit with winter, in all of its forms.  Snow, freezing rain, ice storms, freezing cold temperatures – you name it, we have been enduring it.  We live on a residential street in the suburbs, surrounded by other families.  We are actually quite lucky to have great neighbours and we have been having a block party every summer, to celebrate our neighbourhood.

While out shovelling and clearing off the cars, expect to see other neighbours doing the same and everyone engaging in polite banter.  Very Norman Rockwell….except for this.

If you were to pull up a Norman Rockwell painting about shovelling, I am certain the painting would be full of teenagers clearing the snow and engaging in a snowball fight, or something along those lines.

Not on our street.  Our neighbourhood is full of teenage kids, and after a snow fall, you never see them outside clearing the snow – the parents are doing it.  It boggles the mind!  What happened?  Isn’t this a chore designed for teenagers?

I have always loved clearing the snow.  Growing up, our driveway was 5 car lengths long and we had a walkway in front of the house that needed to be cleared.  But after every snow fall, you would find my brother and me clearing the snow and helping out neighbours also.  It was just a part of the winter experience.

For me, clearing snow provided a very tangible result which was very fulfilling.  And shovelling at night – there is something magical about it.  The snow falling on you, as you try to make a dent in the clearing of it.  The only thing I dislike is clearing the snow off the edge of the driveway after the snow plough has come through and worse still, dealing with heavy bricks of snow that have been created by the snow plough.

And there is a feeling of comradery; shovelling and seeing your neighbours engaged in the same chore.  Helping out neighbours who are elderly or are dealing with other issues in their life…. it makes you feel a part of the community.  In this day and age, where community is becoming a dying part of life, it feels nice to see it alive through this chore.  I have heard so many stories about how certain people take it upon themselves to clear the snow from many driveways in their neighbourhood, just because they can.  Those stories make me happy.

So I raised it with a family friend, who is at university and he advised that his high school program was extremely challenging and taxing and that his parents relieved him of the stress of certain chores, including snow shovelling.  And I have heard this from other parents – that the weight of the academic program is too much and therefore, parents who once had assigned chores, are taking them back, because their kids are at capacity.

But what happens when those kids are living away from home and have to manage the balance of school, groceries, household maintenance, which may include snow shovelling?  As I was advised, the high school program was so heavy and required such discipline, that in contrast, university is more manageable and therefore, finding the balance later is not an issue.

My kids are not teenagers, so I cannot comment on the rigors of high school academics, but I hope that we teach them to find balance, and that shovelling the snow is a part of being a Canadian in winter.

I hope that they have great memories in the snow, like we have had, to balance the complications that sometimes arise with snow.

I hope that they get to experience shovelling in the night, with snow falling around them, and experience the peacefulness associated with it.

I have a lot of hopes, but who knows what the future holds…..

But that’s just one Diva’s view.



1 thought on “The lost of art of shovelling”

  1. Our son, then 15 years old, bought his first turntable with money earned from shovelling neighbourhood driveways, delivering papers and working at Tim Horton’s. His older sister helped with the snow shovelling as well. I used to bring out shots of cognac/beer and a few of us would sit down on freshly heaped snow to take a break from shovelling and enjoy a chin wag. Today, because of health issues I am not allowed to lift the shovel by my neighbours on either side! Not only do they come over and clear the snow, they apologize for waking me up, if it is early morning! Only in Canada!!!
    Thanks for this wonderful blog.


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