Some random thoughts on snow

by DaniGirl on December 16, 2010 · 12 comments

in Life in Ottawa

I‘ve been watching the reports of the snow that continues to pile up in and around London, Ontario. Last I checked, they’d had more than my height of snow fall since the beginning of the season. Yikes! I grew up in London, and while they’re in the so-called snow-belt, this is still pretty much unprecedented.

We haven’t had a lot of the white stuff so far here in Ottawa this year. I figure that’s largely due to the fact that after much debate and angsting and wringing of hands, we decided to use a snow removal service for the first time this year.

In the old house, I was the snow removal service and snow-blower all rolled up into one. Beloved would occasionally clear the driveway or help out during a particularly impressive dump (March of 2008 comes to mind!) but I have always enjoyed the job and the task largely fell to me. That was when our driveway was single width and just barely long enough to accommodate two cars nose-to-bumper.


The new driveway is about, oh, five times that long. With a wicked slope to boot. We knew the old shovel (let alone the old shoveller’s back) just wouldn’t cut it this year. From late September through November, we educated ourselves on snowblowers. Single versus dual stage, horsepower, electric start — we studied them all, compared prices and features, and realized that we weren’t going to get away with anything less than a thousand dollar investment.

On what was pretty much a lark, I wrote down the phone number on the stake delineating the edges of the neighbour’s drive for a local snow-removal service. When their quote came in at a surprisingly affordable $325 for the season, including a 20 per cent premium for early morning clearing, we were sold. We could pay for three years’ worth of snow removal for the cost of a single snow blower, fuel and tune-ups, and not have to worry about losing any limbs. (Confession: I am afraid of the snowblower, and a little bit afraid of gas lawnmowers, too. I plan to cut our 1/2 acre of lawn this summer with a veeeeery long extension cord and our sweet little electric mower.)

The best part of the whole experience has been standing in the toasty-warm living room, watching the snow pile up without having to worry about the hour (or two, or three) of time we’d need to clear it off. And the delight of coming home to a freshly cleaned driveway after a full day of blustery weather.

12:365 Snow removal crew

Mind you, it still takes me 15 minutes just to sweep the snow off the porch (who knew painted surface plus a few millimeters of snow equals skating rink? Beloved and Lucas have already found that one out the hard way) so I get just enough hands-on snow removal to feel like I’m enjoying the season, yanno?

It feels very luxe, I have to tell you. This contracting out of services? Is something I could really get used to! It’s a slippery slope, though. Today’s snow removal service is tomorrow’s personal chef and house cleaner. I wonder what else I can contract out?

How does it work in your house? Snowblower, snow removal, or back-breaking shovel work?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jody December 16, 2010 at 11:32 am

We remove it ourselves, when it falls, if it doesn’t melt before we need to leave the house.

The joys of living in the South.

We’re living in a flat in the UK, and they’re predicting another three feet of snow in our area in the next week. If we can get through the storms, I wonder how snow-removal works….

2 meanie December 16, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I love my cleaning lady and I love my snowplow service. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.
My husband and I always sing this when we see the snowplow coming:
(go to the 29th second)

3 Lee-Ann Sleegers December 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Things are pretty much back to normal for travel in London, except if I put Rachel in the backyard I’ll lose her. Richard clears the driveway, I do the sidewalks and porch. Unfortunately, we’re running out of place to put the snow. I laughed yesterday when the hydro meter reader walked up our driveway and across the front porch to hop off and troop over to read the neighbours meter rather than wade through the thigh deep snow all the way there and back.

4 Amber December 16, 2010 at 4:08 pm

This is where I get to be very smug and state that how it works here is I live in Vancouver, where it rarely snows. The rain can be a bit dismal, but you don’t have to shovel it. ๐Ÿ˜‰

5 DaniGirl December 16, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Thanks meanie, that song will be in my head clear through to spring thaw now.

Thanks for the regional report, Lee-Ann! Glad it’s not too bad. And Jody, you picked a hell of a year to go to the UK. Hope they dig out before you get there!

Amber, when I was in grade 9 a friend of mine moved out to Abbottsford. He used to send hilarious missives back to us (via snail-mail, imagine!) lamenting the rain. “You can’t make a rain man, you can’t make a rain angel. It makes Christmas trees look sad and drippy, not festive. And have you ever tried to make a rain ball? Even if you can, it’s no fun to throw it.” I can’t hear about west coast climate without remembering those hilarious letters.

6 Finola December 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm

We share a driveway with the house next door to us. Many years ago we bought a snowblower together with our (then) neighbours, and that worked well for a while. Now the family lives a little bit further down the street, and we still share the snowblower, but often it just seems easier to shovel.

I would not give up our housecleaners though. They are the best investment in my sanity and marriage ever!

7 Emilie December 16, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Here in Montreal, have been having a lot of snow and a few snow storms one after the other!

8 Annika December 16, 2010 at 10:54 pm

We LOVE our housekeeper…she comes to our home one day a week and also cooks 2-3 meals for us each week. We live in Barrhaven, so even though we have a “large-ish” (for the burbs) driveway with a dbl car garage, hubby and I are usually able to shovel it ourselves. We’re both fitness freaks, though, and just love being outside and getting exercise. Several of our neighbours have snowblowers, however, and are quite generous to us during the major storms. =)

9 Steve December 17, 2010 at 9:49 am

Snowblower all the way, however quite often my neighbour has my driveway cleared before I can get to it. He rocks!

10 Jen December 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm

We went with a snow removal service four years ago and have never looked back ๐Ÿ™‚ Now if only I could find an amazing housekeeper to come in once every two weeks (or the elusive magic wand that, once waved, would result in sparkling bathrooms!)

11 Neeroc December 18, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I generally shovel the laneway. Hubby is a lot more casual about the shovelling, and I can’t stand the ice that forms when you drive/walk over the snow, so it’s me.
Our driveway slopes towards the garage/basement and we’re on an inside of a corner so depending on the direction the plow passes first, it ain’t pretty.
Oh and our snowblowers are always second-hand. I’m much more confident in this on than our last single-stage one. I always felt I was one step away from a missing limb with that one.

12 CampingGirl December 22, 2010 at 11:41 am

I like shoveling, when I was a kid the entire family would shovel (we had a huge driveway) and it was a blast. My husband doesn’t see the “fun” in shovelling and instead purchased a snowblower after the March 2008 dump.

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