Log Cabin Chronicles

Royal Orr

Chop & hack, but curse not


I felt my mortal soul slip into danger this morning, breaking commandment after commandment as I shoveled the never-ending snow this winter has brought us.

First the Lord's name was taken in vain as I chopped and hacked at the ice and the half a meter of the white stuff that had dropped and swirled onto the front steps.


Then, an hour into my task, I began to covet not my neighbours' oxen or their asses or their wives, but their tractor-powered snowblowers. A deep, angry covetousness that I feared could turn murderous at any moment, tipping me over the edge into further sinfulness.

There is a spirituality of snow-shoveling. It touches on the Buddhist notion that all life is suffering. Behold the beauty of the falling snowflakes, but know that you will pay the price of stiff muscles before the day is done.

Or worse.

The American Journal of Cardiology reports that heart disease-related deaths increase by about 22 percent during a snowstorm. Younger men, under the age of 45, are particularly susceptible. Yikes!

Here's a handy checklist to help keep you from knowing with a deep finality that snow and suffering are linked.

1. If you're not physically active, doing some aerobic activity on a regular basis, pay the neighbor's kid to shovel the driveway.

2. Dress warmly and, if it's really cold, breathe through a scarf. It's sweaty and damp, but the cold increases blood pressure and you're already putting a lot of strain on the old ticker.

3. Use a small shovel. This is tough for guys. We tend to think that the biggest tool available must be the right one for the job. It's the lifting that kills, so lighten the load with a smaller blade.

4. Take your time. Pretend you're being paid by the hour. By someone else. Someone rich. Someone you don't particularly like.

5. If you're over 40, don't shovel snow unless you've seen a doctor in the last two years, a doctor who checked your blood pressure and your cholesterol and cleared you for this kind of hard, physical work.

Dress warm. Take it slow. Use a small shovel. Enjoy the work, not just the end of the job. Good advice for your whole life that'll keep you on the good side of the Ten Commandments, too.

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