A pleasurable wintry chore

Winter wonderland

It’s a pretty snowy and wintry view from the front porch of the Manse these days. And that can only mean one thing: lots of shovelling.

Do you have a chore that you find relaxing rather than a pain in the neck? I know a few people for whom ironing serves that purpose; they enjoy the quiet reflection time that standing by the ironing board gives them, not to mention the sense of satisfaction that a well-ironed shirt gives. I know others who seem genuinely not to mind, and indeed even enjoy, doing dishes by hand. I’m not one of those happy ironers or dishwashers, but since Raymond and I moved full-time to the Manse, I have found a task that I really do enjoy: shovelling snow.

Now, I don’t enjoy it so much that I’m about to go house to house offering my snow-shovelling services to my neighbours (who wouldn’t take me up on it anyway, because they pretty much all have snowblowers). But faced with the necessity of keeping the Manse’s driveway and walkways passable this very snowy winter – and last snowy winter too – I have found myself moving a lot of snow. (Raymond shovels too, but once I realized that I didn’t mind doing it, I began urging him away from it. He’s a very good ironer. Way better than I will ever be.)

Shovelling can of course be hard work, especially when the snow is heavy and there’s lots of it. Sometimes my back hurts a bit after a long session, but less and less often now that I’m doing it regularly; I have to say that the exercise feels pretty good. But even better than the exercise is the satisfaction of making a clear way where minutes before there was nothing but many inches of snow. And best of all is the soundtrack I generally have while I’m shovelling. I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let me proudly show you all the shovelling work I did yesterday, the morning after a day of heavy snowfall. It probably won’t strike readers in rural areas as being anything special, but I fully expect you city folk to be impressed with the acreage of the area cleared here at the Manse. So okay, first I shovelled the front walk:

Front walk shovelled

And then the pathway to the garage:

Path to garage shovelled

And then the pathway to our bright-red oil tank. That’s a very important section to shovel out, because the good guys who deliver the heating oil from Woods Fuels in Tweed expect (as they should) a clear path when they arrive to do their work and ensure we stay warm:

Path to oil tank shovelled

I also shovelled in front of our rustic garage:

Front of garage shovelled

And finally, of course, I shovelled out the driveway proper (though I admit the front section was cleared by a neighbour with a truck and scraper blade):

Driveway shovelled

Now, here are two areas that all last winter, and at the start of this winter, also got regularly shovelled – but that this winter, due to the never-endingness of the snowfall, I have just given up on. Here is one set of back-porch steps, utterly unshovelled:

Back steps unshovelled

And here are the steps to the official front door of the Manse, the one that no one ever uses now and that no one ever did even back in the long-ago days when I was growing up in this house:

Front steps unshovelled

People, I do like to shovel. But even I have a limit.

Okay, now for the soundtrack. It was pretty quiet in Queensborough when I was doing all that shovelling yesterday morning. But then, it’s pretty quiet in Queensborough almost all the time. The only thing I could hear was some boisterous chickadees who were chick-a-dee-dee-deeing all the while. What a lovely sound! I wondered if they were commenting among themselves on the quality of my work.

When I was done, I went and fetched my phone in an effort to record them. Unfortunately the chickadees chose that moment to make themselves scarce, but there were other birds offering up some commentary, and here they are:

Now, isn’t that a good kind of soundtrack to work by? It made me happy as I headed back indoors, my shovelling done. Or, well – maybe not.

Because right then, it started to snow again.

6 thoughts on “A pleasurable wintry chore

  1. Listen closely to the chickadees. With the sun getting warmer, they have another song. I always think it sounds like Springggs herre. Or maybe it`s Comming Sooon. Seriously, listen for it!

  2. It may be especially quiet in your yard just now because the background noise of the Black River water rushing over the Queensborough dam has been muted, I hear, by ice. Our rapids furher down the Black river have frozen over for the first time in our 8 years here, and the missing continuous sound track of turbulent water is almost eerie.

    • Oh that’s interesting! Yes, the river in the village is frozen over, including at the dam, but it was last year too. I suppose the freezing of the rapids at your place must be yet another sign of how bitterly cold this January and February have been. I can imagine how strange it must be not to hear a noise that is normally constant. (And is there any more soothing noise in the world than the sound of water going over rapids?)

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