A Girl and a Shovel and a Nice Long Driveway


Who knew shoveling the driveway was so hard? Maybe it depends on the driveway. Ours is a decent size. With a hill. And a curve. Lots of steps leading to the front door.

Then again, it could be that this was my first time ever actually shoveling it.

That’s right. I am 22 years old and I am a yard-work-avoider. A person who avoids yard work. I guess shoveling could be classified as such. Anything that involves manual labor and tools that you buy at a hardware store or in the hardware section of a Wal-Mart counts as yard work, according to me. And I have avoided it at all costs for my entire life.

I have been lucky enough to live in a house with a big beautiful backyard, up on a hill–plenty of trees with leaves that turn glorious colors in the fall, and flowers and bushes growing up the hill and trimming the sides of the house. A beautiful recipe for disaster.

Just think of all the stuff that is involved with keeping a yard nice. There’s mowing the grass, raking leaves and shoveling snow. And then there’s mulching and fertilizing. There’s the planting of the flowers and weeding. There’s bush-trimming and branch-cutting. Salting the steps. Watering the plants when it’s a dry summer. Tying up the daffodils if you want them to bloom again next year (which obviously we do). And that thing they do in yards when little nuggets resembling owl pellets pop up everywhere so that the grass can breathe for a little while (I believe it’s called aerating?). I would even count hanging Christmas lights as yard work, considering you need a ladder, hammer and nails, possibly a staple gun.

That’s a lot of time-consuming work. Well worth the reward, many people will say. And I certainly agree.

But am a yard-work-avoider. And I have done it all to get out of all that nonsense. I’ve given every excuse in the book, from the usual “I have homework” to the extreme “I have a swim meet later this month and I can’t possibly strain my athletically-toned muscles.” I have avoided eye-contact with my parents, played the silent game for 40 minutes while they yell for me to help. I’ve pretended I’m invisible, or they’re invisible. I’ve locked myself in my room and called friends. Sometimes I went out and picked up a rake. And then stood there with that rake until all the leaves were gone and I could put the rake down and say “phew, glad we got all those leaves raked up!”

Back when I was younger and six inches of snow meant sledding and snowball fights, the deal was we could play outside if we helped shovel at some point. At least I think that was the deal. Maybe I’m making it up in my head because I tried so terribly hard NOT to shovel. But it doesn’t matter, I didn’t shovel either way. I would push the snow around a little bit. My fingers seemed more frozen shoveling than they did building snow forts, so that was probably another excuse of mine.

What a hard-hearted, selfish little person I was, right? To watch my mom and dad and siblings hauling heavy snow and trash cans full of leaves, down on their hands and knees in the mud to pull weeds, scratching their fingers while picking up the tree trimmings, and I just watched. How could I? Well I’ll tell you. I wanted to read. To write. To keep my hands soft and delicate (Sarcasm on that one. But seriously).

And now I really do wonder- how could I? (Okay, I had a lot of time to think while walking back and forth across the driveway a bazillion times.) It is hard work. No it’s not fun, no it’s not what you want to do. But there are a million reasons why you should. First, I was a child and children should have chores. Children should learn the value of hard work, the rewards of a job well done, the satisfaction of finishing what you started. Second, my parents raised  me and I should do everything I can to make their job easier. They’ve been doing all the really hard stuff (like paying for a house and cars and actually everything, having a job, planning for the future) while I sit around, read and swim. I mean come on. Lastly, (and this is a more current reason) I should help shovel, because if I don’t, I– in my beat-up old car without snow tires or four-wheel drive–will slip and slide all around that decent-sized driveway-on-a-hill and it will be because I didn’t shovel it.

And so, after over 22 years of weaseling my way out of yard work, I finally learned the lessons and shoveled the whole driveway by myself. Mainly because I slipped and slid all the way up it after work, and my parents are on vacation and can’t do it for me.

Tomorrow, my back will be screaming at me. But at least I’ll be able to get out of the driveway.


(photo via)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s