What happened when this senior looked out the window that Monday morning in early November and saw an unbelievable amount of snow on the driveway? Did I bemoan the millions of soft flakes that were already blocking the path out the door, or the ones that were continuing to fall, making getting the car to the street impossible? Nope. I just said the same thing most Whitehorse residents were saying at that moment—wow. Then I decided I better get to it.
November 2020 was the beginning of my fifth winter in the Yukon. I’ve always taken pride in keeping my driveway scraped and shoveled down to the cement during winter. I do this because I know that when cars drive over the fresh snow and compact it, it becomes more difficult to shovel, leaving my driveway lumpy. My tenant usually leaves the house around 7:30 a.m., so I was shoveling by 6:30 a.m. I still only got half of her side of the driveway done before she left. I knew I was going to have to deal with some hard pack from this snowfall. Last year I had asked my wife and our tenant to park on the street all winter to make my shoveling easier, but that didn’t go over too well.
Let me emphasize something —this is not a “fish tale.” I heard many anecdotal accounts of the snowfall being far beyond normal, but I was glad to hear that there was “factual” information to confirm the enormity of the situation. The Whitehorse airport actually closed. Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist estimated that snowfall in Whitehorse was about 30 to 41 centimetres, an amount that far exceeds daily records for October and November, which range from 5 to 15 centimetres.
“We’ve had three days in a row where we are perhaps in record-breaking territory. There were no days in the month, in the old way of measuring things, that we came even close to 41. It’s right out of the ballpark,” Lindquist said in an interview with CBC North.
Let me also make this clear—I was not moving the snow with some powerful snowblower. Nope. Due to the noise and air pollution they make, the fact that I am half-Scottish, and some misplaced machismo, I decided to take on Snowmageddon with my jagged, broken-at-the-corners shovel. I couldn’t believe it when I came in from my third trip outside and I still hadn’t cleared it all the way to the street. This was not even attempting to scrape down to the cement, just trying to keep ahead of the neverending cascade of flakes. At the end of the day, bone tired wasn’t nearly deep enough to describe it. It was Friday before I finished shoveling the front and back.
Over the course of that fateful Monday, I occasionally lamented that I wasn’t keeping up to the adjacent neighbours in shoveling speed. But I did remind myself that they were probably 30 years younger. A couple days later, the neighbour directly across the street told me what a good man I was. He said he wished he could do what I was doing. He is about 25 years older than me.
A family member teased me that if my neighbours did not know it was a competition, that I would probably win. Unfortunately, I disagree. One young neighbour effortlessly keeps his driveway like my dining room floor and it drives me crazy.
Of course, not every senior will have the same thoughts about Snowmageddon and clearing their driveway. It will vary with one’s age and health and views on a snowless driveway. It is also quite possible that I would not have tackled Snowmageddon as I did if it was farther into the winter and I was sick of shoveling.
As of the writing of this, I wonder how high that pile along the driveway will get before spring melt.