Long Live the Shoveling Snow!

In Quebec, shoveling snow is a normal practice for common people who are lucky or unfortunate enough to live in a house, even when they have a snowblower that is not out of order. This one is indeed not very effective to remove the snow from the stairs or narrow paths and even less the ice barrier left at the entrance of the alley by the snowplow used to evacuate the snow from the neighborhood streets. And the Quebec winter has the annoying tendency to last five or six months a year. Especially for an immigrant from a country with a generally warm climate, shoveling snow can seem “boring”. The more he has been accustomed to comfort, material ease, lack of physical effort, life in a cocoon, the more his personality may tend to revolt against the nature of his host country. Yet, from another point of view, the Quebec winter is a blessing in modern times. Why, could we ask ourselves.

Is lifting the snow and breaking the ice for long hours during multiple winter storms a blessing? Is not it rather painful and disgusting? The author himself is not a very enthusiastic human being when it comes to physical efforts, especially when these could be left to other people much more muscular or to machines much more powerful. He has what is called here a “frame of mosquito”. His physical vehicle is rather of the kind of these old “deux cheveaux” (“two-horse” — ancient French vehicle) today disappeared outside of some collectors or museums of the automobile. It is certainly not a Ferrari nor a Hummer.

Yet, well maintained, this small vehicle holds the road for years, and even decades, without major breakdowns. He experienced only slight incidents of course, such as pieces of paint flaking, but quickly repainted. It is not big, but it seems indestructible. What’s more, since 2003, the winter of Quebec requires it to remain efficient, and avoids it rusting in a corner for lack of maintenance and use. This winter is “boring” and long, but for the occupant of the vehicle, it is rather a blessing. It forces the physical body to function, to make efforts, to run its engine and its mechanical wheels. While this body or its personality grumbles, the driver prays for the snow plow to break down, which obviously ends up arriving some nice day.

Oh! this day was perhaps not so beautiful, moreover, from the point of view of the vehicle! It was probably snowing again, twentieth or thirtieth of the season. However, it was beautiful for the occupier, because then there was only the solution to start and use his organic machine. Muscles that do not serve atrophy. But if the driver wants to travel far, he must maintain his mount. Sparing it does not only mean avoiding over-revving and the consequent engine explosion, but also keeping it running smoothly to maintain its optimum capabilities.

Shoveling the snow on a regular basis and during a significant part of the year is an activity that contributes to the maintenance of the physical body of the human being. From this point of view, the Quebec winter and the absence of a snowblower represent a blessing. Also, one may wonder to what extent the invention of machines has not been the worst of curses. These seem to make the Man and the Woman more and more lazy and dysfunctional. Not only have machines greatly contributed to the deterioration of nature in many ways (soil depletion by turning it, massive deforestation, nuclear and conventional explosions …), but they also contribute to stupefying and weakening individuals by avoiding them to use their natural abilities (memorization, mental calculation, physical efforts …). What will give the generation raised with the so-called “smart” phone?

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