Like the labours of Hercules…

Ah, there’s nothing like a New Year and the start of a heavy winter season to stop and make you ponder life.

I’ve found recently one of the best places to ponder life is while I’m shovelling the driveway, particularly the end.

Having been storm-stayed for most of the last two weeks due to an incredible volume of snow, over the weekend I looked at various versions of a comedic diary of a man who moves to the snowy countryside for his first winter.

I’m sure most people have read at least one of the multitudes of versions floating around cyberspace.

The journal entries begin with the man wishing for snow, picturing his idyllic new surroundings carpeted in snow. The entries finish with him moving somewhere to the south out of this “Godforsaken” land of ice and snow where deer bound out to destroy cars, dastardly snow-plow drivers lurk around the corner waiting to fill in the driveway, and shovels get broken repeatedly while hands blister inside sweat-soaked mittens.

Way back in the winter of 1995-1996, which was my first permanent winter in this area, I was first exposed to this fictitious-but-almost-too-accurate journal. I laughed until my tears ran down my face reading it, because I could relate all-too-readily to it.

That was a particularly heavy winter, rather similar to what we’re having now.

As it turns out, this has been a poor year for me to tell myself that I need more exercise during the winter season, even though I am an avid snowshoer. To that end, I have steadfastly – so far, anyway – resisted the urge to break out the snow-blower in favour of shovelling.

Reactions have been mixed so far. While one friend has applauded my initiative, another likes to remind me that “I’m not a youngster anymore.”

“Exercise is good, but don’t be stupid about it,” is another pearl of wisdom by the same friend.

A couple of days ago, a neighbour who runs a snow-clearing business dropped by to laconically observe “that seems like a lot of shovelling”. The plow had been by – twice in fact – and left an appropriately brown-stained mass of snow at the end that looked like it should be added to the list of the labours of Hercules.

He helpfully added he could do the job for $20 a visit.

My resolve wavered strongly at that, and only the fact that I had cleared most of the chest-high snow left behind by my, ahem, well-regarded neighbourhood plow driver, gave me the strength to refuse the offer.

Still, I didn’t refuse outright, and I have the offer filed securely away at the top level of my memory.

I hope everyone is having somewhat better luck than I am with their resolutions!

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