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How To Shovel Your Driveway
by Linda Mondoux
TheSyndicatedNews columnist

Linda Mondoux has more than 28 years experience in the word business as a writer and editor, becoming a full-time freelancer in 2007. She has worked for several daily newspapers, most recently with The Ottawa Citizen, where she was a copy editor and a city columnist.

By Linda Mondoux

My motto has always been that if you're going to do something, do it right. Which explains why I don’t do much.

But even the least talented has one thing he or she is good at and, for me, that is snow-shoveling (though the term itself comes nowhere close to describing the beauty that is produced by combining vision, a few grunts and a gleaming shovel).

You see, clearing the driveway of snow is an art. And like any art, there are a few simple rules that must be followed if you are to know success — measured in the number of dog-walkers and motorists who slow down to nod in appreciation as you stand in your driveway, your face flushed with pride, surveying your handiwork.

In fact, that feeling of a job done well is so overwhelmingly joyous that I feel compelled to share with you what has up to now been a family secret.

I had naively assumed everyone knew that cutting corners was the secret to the best-looking hand-shoveled driveway in town. “Where do you think you’re going?” I asked my husband, after our first snow-shoveling experience as a couple, as he walked back to the garage to put his shovel away.

“We’re finished, aren’t we? I’m going in to make us some hot chocolate.”

Who was this scofflaw? “We’re not finished,” I pronounced, “until we cut the corners.”

The look of puzzlement on his face convinced me that perhaps this corner-cutting was a weird tradition that had yet to catch on in the rest of the snow-clearing world.

“Go, go. I’ll do it myself,” I grumbled, secretly pleased that it would be my expert snowbank-sculpting that would make our driveway the envy of the neighborhood.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The first rule of shoveling is to realize that the power to shape snowbanks is in your hands — not Mother Nature’s. This means that you should create your snowbanks as soon as the first snow falls. For example, if you have a double driveway, don’t just shovel the asphalt. Think big. Think wide. Think mountains and valleys.

That four-inch snowfall may not seem like much at first, but come March, when the snowbanks are eight feet tall and hard as ice, you don’t want to feel as if your driveway is closing in on you.

So, with the first snowfall, get out there and clear the driveway, plus at least two feet of lawn on each side. Then, stand on the roadway behind the left snowbank and advance about three feet. Stick your shovel into the snowbank and draw a line at a 45-degree angle. Remove all the snow outside the cut mark.

Repeat on right side of driveway.

Cutting halfway up the lawn may seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it. You’ll now have room to put the garbage out for pickup; have plenty of space to drive in and out without those tricky tight turns; and, most important, you’ll be able to see what’s coming when you back out of the driveway.

Now, just one more step to go.

Since traditions evolve, I have taken it upon myself to add one new step to the corner-cutting driveway-clearing method. This involves removing all the heavy snow beyond the bottom of your driveway.

OK, yes, I mean shovel the street. But only your half. And only the width of your new super-wide driveway. And don’t forget to toss the snow up and over your new corner snowbanks.

The reason for this final step is simple: If you’ve cleared the street, there is nothing left for the snowplow to throw back into your driveway. Shovel once and you’re through.

My husband accused me of making up this corner-cutting thing, but my siblings set him straight. “Of course you have to cut corners,” they exclaimed.

He claims we’re all crazy — and maybe we are. But there’s no denying we had the best-looking driveway in town.

There’s nothing like the feeling you get from a job well done.

Published: Aug 27,2008 16:44
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