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Letter: Snow-shoveling joy

Just had a lovely afternoon shoveling snow: a nice workout and a very pleasant neighborhood experience. While uncovering the fire hydrant on our street, I got to chat with a new neighbor. Then after clearing my sidewalk (and front walk for the mail carrier) I wandered down the street with my shovel and helped some other neighbors finish up, also getting to watch a little boy transfixed by the beautiful white stuff.

Because we were all using shovels rather than snowblowers, the conversation was possible and the child could be safely alongside as we worked. Shoveling is gentler on the environment and can be a realistic and satisfying option for most of us lucky enough to be able-bodied. It’s important to have the right tools — I’ve found a shovel with a large aluminum head and long wooden handle is much more comfortable and effective than typical snow shovels, plus a long-handled steel-headed ice breaker to loosen up more compacted snow. It’s also important to be physically prepared for this vigorous labor. It would seem that part of our environmental responsibility is to maintain a level of strength and aerobic fitness so that our bodies can manage as many tasks as possible manually, rather than relying on fossil fuels and machines that create air and noise pollution. And the shared effort of neighbors helping each other spreads out the workload and creates a wonderful sense of community.

I’m nearing 60, but amidst the beautiful quiet of the snowfall and neighborhood bonding, I felt that same joy and magic of winter that I experienced when I was that little boy.



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