By Philip Schmidt, Hometalk
As a kid growing up in Colorado, I spent my winters in the backyard on a pair of K-Tel Fun Skis. We wore bread bags inside our boots to keep our feet dry and slightly less numb; if they didn’t totally “kill,” we were happy. Nowadays winter is more complicated. There’s a driveway to clear before the commute, there’s a house to keep slightly less filthy, and for some inexcusable reason, no one makes anything like a Fun Ski any more. But the fact is, if you focus on the many inconveniences of winter, you’ll miss all the fun of it. So here are a few lessons I’ve learned about how to make the grownup side of cold weather more tolerable.
Embrace the Inevitable
I spent five winters as an adult in Minneapolis, which makes a Denver winter feel like a nippy day in Palm Springs. Yet Minnesotans don’t grouse much about the cold, and you get the feeling it’s even considered a little uncool to do so. Accepting the long, brutal season is just part of their culture, as evidenced by the crowded walking paths in sub-zero weather. This certainly taught me something: the more you embrace the inevitable onslaught of winter, the more you can enjoy the good parts of it (which do not include scraping your windshield in mid-April).
Delegate or Dial-In the Driveway
Clearing snow from your driveway and walks comes with two painful options: 1) suit-up and shovel or snowblow before you get ready for work, or 2) save the time up front by driving over the snow, thereby compacting it to a granite-like hardness that you have to deal with when you get home (or wait until spring). If you really don’t like shoveling or don’t have the time or lower back for it, consider using a plow service for the winter. This may sound extravagant, but it’s really no different from hiring a neighborhood kid to mow your lawn, and it’s actually better for the environment than running a typical snowblower. Landscaping companies of all sizes offer snowplow services. In this economy, it pays to shop around for a good price.
If you’re sticking with a shovel or snowblower, you can save yourself a lot of swearing by maintaining the driveway and walks before the snow flies. Smooth out all of the rough spots, cracks and uneven joints in concrete or asphalt with an appropriate patching compound, and seal cracks with caulk or sealant to prevent further cracking. Prevent ice accumulation on walkways by making sure the surfaces are sloped for drainage. You can resurface damaged or poorly draining concrete walks or cover them with sandset brick or concrete pavers. A non-mortared paver surface isn’t as easy to shovel as flat concrete, but it’s self-draining and can prevent recurring ice rinks in low areas.