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Hay’s Daze: The great sidewalk snow shovel challenge


What with all that white stuff dumping down on us lately, I’ve been conflicted. I’m halfway between bummed out and bummed in, so to speak. I was glad to see some descending snow, especially after pining for a little more white magic at Christmastime. I was simultaneously non-clinically depressed when the weather that came with the dump felt like minus 100 degrees below both C and F. But the reason I was a bit chuffed was that I had finally purchased something I’d had my eye on for a very long time, and now I was going to get a chance to give it a go.

You see, for the last couple of years, it’s become quite a daunting challenge (is there any other kind?) to shovel the #$&@! snow off the #$&@! sidewalk! I’m not saying I’m getting slightly decrepit, but when I scrape, scoop and toss approximately two shovelfuls of snow, I have to go back inside and lie down for a while. (And by the way, wouldn’t Scrape, Scoop & Toss make an excellent name for a law firm?)

It was getting to the point that I was uncomfortable watching the Better Half freezing away out there grunting away, clearing the snow, me sitting contentedly inside with a nice coffee, kind of feeling a bit guilty, which is uncomfortable. And the Rotten Kid (the son one) is often out in some northern bush doing his Enviro Biology thing, so I usually can’t invite him over for a visit and then hand him a snow shovel.

Now, a big honking snow blower machine is out of the question for many reasons, but over the years, every time it’s snowed I’ve had my mind’s eye on one of those cool little mini-snow blowers-on-a-stick. They are officially called ‘power shovels’ and when one went on sale recently, I figured it was time to take the plunge, blow some dough and blow some snow.

Here’s the thing: you know when you get a shiny notion about really wanting something and when you finally get it, that something isn’t nearly as shiny as you thought it would be? In this case, it turns out the much-anticipated power shovel kind of sucks instead of blows.

When the many centimeters of snow finally arrived, I charged outside with great expectations of Dickensian proportions that this will be the final answer to my great sidewalk snow shovel challenge. However:

Issue #1: It’s electric but not battery-type electric, so I have to string three stiff, frozen extension cables together. And they don’t stay together. And I trip on them. A lot.

Issue #2: This thing is freakin’ HEAVY! In fact, it’s heavier than a snow-shovel-full-of-heavy-snow heavy. I can barely push it, which, I believe, is what you’re supposed to do.

Issue #3: When I do manage to grunt it through the snow, the exploding plum is straight ahead, three meters high and five meters long, and with the force of a ten-inch fire hose shooting snow.

I thrash around blasting the neighbor’s picture window, burying three parked cars and completely wiping out two people and a dog innocently walking by on the sidewalk.

The auger thingy is screaming, the snow throw is roaring, and I think I might be yelling at the top of my lungs, but I’m not entirely sure. It’s like trying to wrestle an angry polar bear cub with a pool noodle, and in about 2.5 minutes, I look and feel like a human snowman, and I have to go inside and lie down for a while.

I’d get rid of the thing on Kijiji, but there are already 15 second-hand power shovels for sale online. I wonder why.

Harley Hay is a Red Deer author and filmmaker. Reach out to Harley with any thoughts or ideas at

Byron Hackett

About the Author: Byron Hackett

Byron has been the sports reporter at the advocate since December of 2016. He likes to spend his time in cold hockey arenas accompanied by luke warm, watered down coffee.
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