You enjoy lifting heavy things, so you probably spend a lot of time wishing you could shovel snow. I know you're interested in water, too, and all of the various engineering strategies for its containment and movement. So you probably daydream about snow, and think about methods for moving it and storing it.
Moving to our new place has changed our shoveling challenges a little bit. We no longer have a garage, nor a big yard, and our house is tightly wedged in a small lot, on a steep slope. This means there are few places to put the snow -- you really have to pick it up and walk it to the backyard, because if you just scoop and toss it'll go into the neighbor's walkway, or it will quickly create a wall of snow so high that your next shovelfull will just slide back down the face. It means snowmelt from our neighbor's roof turns to a treacherous flow of ice along the steepest part of our driveway, just where you need the little extra bit of traction to get the car up and over on to safety. There's a fire hydrant immediately flanking our driveway entrance, and you can't pile up your snow on top of that, plus the firemen come around after every big storm and dig out the hydrants, dumping their snow willy nilly into our driveway after we've cleared it.
The good news is that the city comes by with a little minitruck and plows and sands our sidewalk. Eventually. Also the direction of the plow usually means that we don't get the brunt of the neighborhood's snow at the end of our driveway, which was the case at our old house.
While shoveling today, I was thinking about some of the questions you might have about the whole process. I'm happy to share what I've learned. First, you want a bent-handle shovel. It's easier on your back over time. I don't think there's much of an advantage to the metal-tipped blade, though. Theoretically it helps you scrape the ice off the pavement, but if you have a bumpy brick surface to shovel, chances are the metal blade will either get damaged or just won't work at all. It's not a bad idea to have a special shovel just for scraping ice -- that one, of course, will have a narrow metal blade and a straight handle. And then you'll need a way to sprinkle the salt-sand mixture over the pavement where it ices up the worst. We use a spade for that, but you may find another way.
Second, we all wonder about the efficacy of the mid-storm shovel. You know, when you're expecting twelve inches, and it's going to snow all day, and you look out the window and see six inches out there, should you go out and shovel so that you'll have half as much work at the end of the storm? I'm coming to believe that that's a waste of time. Go get the plow's pile at the end of the driveway, and clear a path for the mailman, but save your shoveling efforts for when the storm is over. Otherwise the wind will just blow everything around and when you go back out you won't be able to tell that you spent any time shoveling at all.
Third, you probably know this, but of course it is important to treat January snow differently than February and March snow. For the January storms, you must shovel a wide, thorough, deep path. You must patiently carry the snow all the way to the backyard, because you know that the snow is going to be where you put it for months, and it will thaw and freeze and thaw and freeze until it is as hard as concrete. If you do not do a good job now, you can never repair your error and your driveway and paths will just get narrower and narrower all winter. In February you can start to cut corners, and by March you may be so bitter and weary that you will do only what is minimally necessary to get to your car. But in January, you must take pride in a wide and clean path.