“Today, I Shoveled Snow…”

“Announced by all the trumpets of the sky, Arrives the snow…” RW Emerson

Winter Street

Today, I shoveled snow. Yesterday, I shoveled snow. And the day before that, I shoveled snow. It’s winter in western New York and we live with a steady diet of snow

Along the winter shores of Lake Ontario, steady snowfalls are the norm and removing it is more than a daily ritual. It’s a right of passage for youngsters and an absolute necessity for adults who get up, get out and get to work. Commerce doesn’t stop for weather, here.

Growing up in central Massachusetts, where measureable snowfalls also were a common occurrence, kids there learned to shovel at an early age, too. It was not an option in a blue collar neighborhood where dads had to be at work early and on-time.

All able bodied males in the house, young or old, manned shovels, clearing driveways and walks to help get workers on their way. Plow service and snow blowers were an unaffordable luxury for most families.

All that was heard on eerily quiet, ‘three decker’ lined streets the morning after a nor’easter, was the scraping of metal shovels over frozen pavement, and dry, fluffy snow squeaking underfoot with each twist of our black buckled boots. The task of finishing a job fell to the young school boys with nothing but time on their hands. Time and energy.

Snow shoveling is a low skill task, even the tools are simple and aptly named, ‘shovels’.  Bend, scoop, lift, toss, use your legs not your back. But those weren’t instructions my dad gave. He was more direct, knowing that I could figure out the mechanics, myself.

“I expect this driveway and sidewalk shoveled by the time I come home from work”, he announced, without mentioning my name or even looking at me. It was understood whom he was addressing, the skinny kid and the only one left home after he and big brothers went to work.

My dad’s directives were always clear and concise. The fewer the words, the stronger the message. Besides, mother always made sure the work got done, as prescribed.

And when the jobs were done, the neighborhood became a bevy of street hustlers, as I and other like-minded junior entrepreneurs with shovels slung over our shoulders, eagerly slipped and slid through heavy snowdrifts, knocking on doors with wet mittens, competing for whatever snow removal opportunities were left at neighboring houses.

We had no business plan or even understood the value of our labor. Regardless, we would shovel walks clean to the pavement, keeping tempo to imaginary cash registers ringing in our collective minds, totally dependent on the client’s generosity. Sometimes it was good and other times, not so good. But the greater lesson of work and reward was invaluable.

Now, I still find myself taking on the task of snow removal. It rekindles frigid memories of finger and face freezing days under the watchful eyes of my father and the lessons he ‘taught’ me.

One thing is certain…I can’t wait for the return of summer in western New York!

Snow 2



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Retired in 2013 after 5 years as an elementary school teacher and 40 years as a sales representative to begin anew as a school crossing guard. SMy essays/stories are a way to communicate through the telling of personal experiences. One reader said about my blog stories, "...these are like a cold sip during a marathon run, simple, real life events". Another offered about my blog, “it brings some sense of normalcy not easily found in the modern world.”

18 thoughts on ““Today, I Shoveled Snow…””

  1. I can still remember shoveling the driveway so dad could get the car in to park off the street and shoveling a path to the “garbage can” so the necessities of life in Massachusetts could continue without interruption. No questions were asked, when we were told what to do, we did it. Think we learned some pretty darn good lessons, don’t you………………love it…………June

    Liked by 1 person

    1. June, my No.1 fan (and sister), thank you for adding to the great memories. Yes, that was a long driveway, too. I think Gary even got a chance to shovel it. Probably still sore. I agree, in their own way, they taught positive life lessons. Not only did we learn well but we listened well, even though sometimes we scratched our heads.


  2. Hi Steve,
    Right on about the snow clearing. I grew up on a dairy farm so I elected myself to clear the snow using the tractor. It was cold but still an enjoyable job since you could see where you had been and what you had accomplished. Better still – to spring!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. But, wouldn’t you love to wake up one morning to the pretty picture my street painted with all the trees’ branches bending toward you, in homage, as you drove beneath their arches? Just once? The truth is, I’m not a snow fan either. I’ll have another ‘snow’ story next month. And thanks for the comment.


  3. “And when the jobs were done, the neighborhood became a bevy of street hustlers, as I and other like-minded junior entrepreneurs with shovels slung over our shoulders…” That was my favorite paragraph. And oh how I wish we had some of those little hustlers.

    Thoroughly enjoyable. We’re just not getting the snow in my neck of Canadaland that we’re accustomed to. I’m sad and glad at the same time, for it is a love/hate relationship. LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. You have thoughtful comments. As a guy fairly new at this, I’m appreciative that you mention certain lines that impress you. I think you’re seeing it as I do. I’ll FEDEX some snow, all if it if you wish…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Steve
    As usual it’s fun to share with you a part of your life & childhood (?)
    Of course no way to share the experience here on the French Riviera since we rarely have minus températures;
    Please continue sharing nice stories with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. As someone who works outdoors I don’t like snow, but I do enjoy shovelling. I find it therapeutic and as you mention, it’s quite satisfying when you can see the fruits of your labour.
    Winter’s seem to get milder and milder here in England. There’s only been one light snowfall this winter, with precious little snow to justify the use of my shovel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Paul, I don’t like the cold and snow, either And I’m not crazy about shoveling. But it has to be done. Glad you liked the story. I’m curious, how did you find it?


      1. I read one of your comments on another blog, clicked on your avatar which lead me here and I’m glad it did.
        You’re a very good writer. The blogosphere is huge and it’s difficult to make your mark, but your blog is one of the most interesting and enjoyable I’ve come across recently.
        I wish you a peaceful Sunday.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. What a very nice compliment. I just began writing last year for the mental exercise. Some people liked it so I started the blog to share with others because they’re ‘feel good’ type stories based on real life. It’s hard to reach a larger audience and I haven’t been successful at that part. But I thoroughly enjoy the challenge of writing and will continue. If you FOLLOW me, I would be very appreciative. And thank you for the nice ‘sentiment’. It seems to be more challenging in the world to find ‘peaceful’ days, doesn’t it. Sincerely, Steve


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