Shoveling Snow


Shoveling Snow Blind

     Snow shovel in hand I stepped out my front door. "Burr." It was late afternoon and the latest winter storm of ten to thirteen inches accumulation was winding down. I had stayed home from work like most of the city. Digging out after a paralyzing blizzard starts at your front door and I wanted to get my walks and driveway cleared before the night's temps hardened the new snow.

     "WOW! Knee-deep!" The snow always drifted up my front steps. "This is going to be work." I breathed in the frosty air, enjoying the clean taste. "Oh well, it all starts with the first scoop." Truth be known, I looked forward to the challenge; I was in good physical shape, enjoyed this type of chore, and it chocked up a mark in the "responsible homeowner column."

     My first scoop was straight ahead on the top step. Lifting the blade, I began throwing left over the waist-high bushes. Three more scoops took me down to concrete. Stepping into the cleared space, pivoting left, touching the blade on cement, thinking, "Might be able to get this strip in one go." Jamming the blade forward to the grass line, lifting, pitching; feeling lose snow cascading down onto my feet. "Nope, too much." I began scooping the right-hand side of my trench. Two red cheeks later, the width of the walk was clear and I had to remove my neck scarf to keep from overheating. I repeated this drill along the short walk that ran across the front of the porch to where it met up with the driveway.

     While I scooped and tossed, I was thinking, "Interesting, shoveling snow as a blind guy is one of those activities that usually brings about either amazement or negatives in people's heads." Recently, at my monthly meeting for blind consumers, I took a poll. Out of the five blind homeowners, I was the only one who regularly shoveled. Two were elderly women; one of them shoveled when younger. Two were younger than me; one of the guys had no clue how it could be done, and the fifth guy had shoveled some, but had orientation issues about getting lost.

     If you've got your health, shoveling blind is just another alternative technique. The shovel is not only a tool for moving stuff; it's also a travel tool. And then there's your feet, just as the shovel tells you tactilely and auditorially about the surface you are clearing, your feet do the same; clear cement is different than cement that is snow-covered, which is different than grass-covered ground. Knowing when your blade is full comes from the weight and amount of resistance that you can feel through the handle. You clear your area by scooping in an over-lapping pattern, just like you cover the surface when using a vacuum sweeper, or clearing your kitchen table, or mopping your floor.

     The driveway was next. It is about 10 foot wide and 50 feet long from curb to garage. So after a short rest, and throwing a few snowballs, I started shoveling on across the front of the garage. Now the snow got deeper, above my waist.

     Facing down the drive toward the street, I listened around, taking a read on the auditory landscape, getting oriented. Left was the distant sounds of a busy street and across from me and down two houses someone started up a snowblower.

     Starting at the right grass line, I dug in at the level of my belt buckle, pitched right, continued to cut down into the drift, widening my excavation in order to clear out the snow that slid into my deepening hole. Shoveling the average snowfall, if you viewed the snow as a long ribbon, I worked back and forth across its end. I'd start from the right side, scoop straight ahead, pitch right, take a half step left, scoop, check to the right with my foot for snow that had come off the blade and clear it, then half step to the left and at midpoint of the ribbon, pitch left. Nope, there was no pretty choreography to today's job, it was just dig and throw, dig and throw. And so I kept with it until I detected the slant at the end of the drive as it slopes down to the street. "At last, here's the turn." I got to the sidewalk running across the front of my property and, after opening up my jacket because I was really working up some internal heat, I cleared that too.

     "Alright! I'm finished." Walking back over all that I had cleared, checking for little landslides, I heard footsteps coming from where the snowblower guy had been working.

     "Hi, I'm Daniel, your new neighbor. Hey..." His voice moved from side to side as he looked around, "Good job." Then he added something I had to digest before answering. "If you want, I'd be willing to blow out your drive and walks for the rest of the winter. Interested?"


e-mail responses to

**1. This is wonderful, and that's exactly the way I worked when we lived in a snowy climate. In fact, the year we first moved here, we had a few inches of
snow. We were the only ones with a snow shovel--at least mine was the only one you could hear anywhere around. Our neighbors weren't home, so I did theirs
too. When they came home they heartily thanked me. They didn't own a snow shovel. By the way, that snow shovel died of old age this past year, and we bought our first new one since 1985. The snows we get around here usually melt off
right away, but we needed a shovel again this year.

Judy Jones

**2. I love to shovel because it is a form of great exercise. I do a good job
rather in the manner you described. We just moved in to a new area and yes
sometimes the neighbor blows off the walk, but for the most part I do it. I
have told them that it is nothing against them at all, I just love the
exercise and the chance to get out and breathe the fresh air. However fresh
that might be. If he beats me to it then great but if I get to it first
that is fine also.

Kay Malmquist ACB listserv

**3. When I lived in Spokane, where it really can snow, I bought a very sturdy
snow shovel. That was 35 years ago. That shovel just keeps on going. For
one reason, I love getting outside on a snowy day and going at it. For
another reason, I don't have a neighbor with a snow blower and a generous
heart. But as I fast approach my 72nd birthday I know that my shoveling
days are numbered, maybe only another 20 winters or so. Actually, my
grandpa shoveled his drive until he was 90 years old. He only gave it up
because he and Grandma moved to a retirement apartment. And that was in
My experience is that snow comes in two forms. Too heavy and too light.
You had better be in great condition and pace yourself with the heavy stuff.
It will wear you down fast. But the light snow can be very tricky. You get
a shovel full and before you can flip it to the side it flies back into your
face and down your neck.
A couple of words of caution. Never let the snow sit until it becomes
packed and crusty. Even heavy duty snow shovels will give up the ghost
under that load. And never shovel a walk clear to the cement. At least
never do so unless you plan to salt the walk or drive. Many a broken bone
has occurred on that sheen of ice that forms over night on a freshly cleared
walk. Steps can be the worst of all.
When we lived in Renton, south of Seattle, I shoveled the walk and the walks
of my next two neighbors. Both were elderly ladies on fixed income.
Interestingly enough it never bothered either one of them to have a blind
man shovel their walks.

Carl Jarvis

**4. I enjoy getting out and shoveling snow. It's great exercise and it
feels good to get out in the crisp air and work up a good
sweat. After getting turned around a couple times, I left a radio
playing in our garage for orientation. We live on a street that's
pretty quiet during the day and the slope of the drive right before
it connects to the street can be hard to discern under deep
snow. And ice on top of snow, which we had here in Des Moines a few
weeks ago, is the worst. I think I got a retroactive hernia from

Norma A. Boge-Conyers ACB-L listserv

**5. Good Thought Provoker. I sure identify with the shoveler. When I lived in New Hampshire, I did my share of clearing snow from my sidewalk and long driveway. I could have paid someone to snow blow or plow the driveway, but had the time and interest to do so myself. Besides, I wasn't willing to pay someone to
perform a task that I had the time and ability to perform. Now that I live in Florida, I kind of miss that winter activity. This provoker indicates that the neighbor is offering to snow blow the driveway, but doesn't say whether it is a donation or for pay. Perhaps he is looking
for extra income. If I were the shoveler, I'd thank my neighbor for his offer and consider it, depending on its cost and whether I could spend my time
doing something more important. Shoveling snow in Florida isn't much of a problem, but we do have lots of leaves to rake and grass to cut. Frankly, I
pay someone to perform these and other tasks, because I'm busy with my work and advocacy activities. Actually, I think that this Provoker is more about personal perceptions and those of others, as well as being willing to try, than it is about shoveling
snow. The author of this piece obviously takes pride in his ability to care for his home independently, while others can't imagine being able to do
so themselves. I'd guess that this person has a confident, "I'll take care of it" attitude. He appears to actually be speaking to doing something him/herself, rather than relying on another.

Doug Hall (Daytona Beach, FL)

**6. I am a home owner and hire my snow shoveled. I have tried to shovel snow
before - orientation is not a problem, but it seems that I do not get
everything off the sidewalk. There is always a little skiff. Sometimes,
even now, I have to go outside before they come to shovel me out and shovel
so I can open my door to let the dog outside. I have heard other blind
people say they have trouble getting all the snow off the sidewalk. I have
the sidewalk beside my house to shovel, the steps and sidewalk up to my door
and my back deck. I pay $30.00 per visit.

Deb Caldbeck ACB-L

**7. Take the guy up on his offer! In my southern bred opinion, snow removal and blindness have no connection. As a sighted person, in good physical condition, I hated snow removal, and I do to this date. Fortunately, for the last 40 years or so, I have lived in snowless country, or I have had the means to hire
snow removal companies. In all seriousness, if you have to do your own snow removal, your blindness should not be a major problem. Ability to adapt, reasonable
accommodation, tenacity, etc., all apply. Like anything else, if you want to do it, you can find a way! I just choose not to do it, and I would make
the same choice if I were perfectly sighted.

Jim Theall, Longmont, Colorado

**8. What one chooses to do and what one can do can be very different things. I love to cook, hate to clean. So if I could afford it, I'd hire a maid service. I don't get any satisfaction from spending the day mopping, scrubbing and vacuuming the house. A part of me knows that family life means I will only have
to do it again but not until next week, if everyone cooperates. I don't mind that meals have to be prepared again and again because there is a certain
amount of artistry in cooking. Thank goodness for talking books to play while I am doing the mindless repetitious things that make for a comfortable home. Your snow shovel guy seemed to enjoy it. So, he might say something like, thanks for the offer, I may take you up on it if I'm pressed for time, catch
a cold or something, but I really enjoy the challenge.

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega, Missouri

**9. This TP raises some thoughts. Sometimes an offer of help is because the one
offering the help feels sorry for the blind person. But there are the times
the person offering help is sincere, knowing his snow blower would make fast
work of the job. He is just wanting to be neighborly and helpful.
I feel how we face this situation will differ from person to person. For
me, I like shoveling snow but many others might jump at this offer.
Also, sometimes when we accept an offer of help we open up the communication
channels for future friendship. In thus doing we may clear the way for us
to help our neighbors also. The more we can interact with our neighbors the
less we are seen as blind but just considered to be a friendly neighbor,
the blindness forgotten.
Just my thoughts.

Ernie Jones Walla Walla, Washington

**10. I use pretty much the same technique as this guy does. However, I try to be a little smarter
and go out more often so that I don't suddenly find myself falling into knee-deep snow. It is a
whole lot easier to shovel a few inches several times a day vs. six inches or more once a day. Up
until this year, my walks were always clear and the neatest on the street and if others needed help,
I would shovel theirs too.
Sometimes, people offer to help, sometimes no--depends on the neighborhood at the time, but it
doesn't matter because I don't really mind shoveling snow. I much prefer the lighter snow to this
general heavy, wet snow that we usually get which is all the more reason to go out several times vs.
try doing it all at once.


**11. This thought-provoker was really interesting. In the Seattle area we don't get a lot of snow but I liked hearing about Mr. Newman's shoveling technique. I'll keep it for future reference.

Chris Coulter ACB-L Listserv

**12. One of the gentlemen on our Living With RP list is in his late 60s and lives on a farm in Pennsylvania. He plows gardens for his wife, shovels snow and cuts down trees. He also does the domestic thing inside, including cooking tasty and nutritious meals and cleaning up afterward. In his spare time he teaches others how to cook and gives them general education on proper nutrition, meal planning, and how to use the leftovers. He makes me, as a sighted spouse,
feel quite out of breath with his energetic enthusiasm for life.

Carolyn Gold Clearwater, FL

**13. Thanks for all the wonderful messages about shoveling snow. I'm going to
save the rest for this afternoon when it's 90 here in Los Angeles.

Abby Vincent

**14. "Pride cometh before the fall." In this case the fall is into a pile of snow with a shovel in your hand. Anyone who attempts to shovel a snowfall of that
magnitude by hand is crazy. Sighted or not, that's a job for a machine. Tell your neighbor that you would be happy for his help. You can handle the small
stuff, and let him take care of the big jobs.


**15. I have my driveway plowed in the winter, but I shovel my walk and my
porch. I want the driveway done right so people can get in and out.
$30.00 per time is a little steep. Most folks here charge between
$15.00 and $20.00 per time.

Ann K. Parsons

**16. I would take the guy up on his offer, offering something in the way
of reciprocation. However, based on my experience, I am willing to
bet that the fact that the guy was able to do the work himself gained
the respect of the neighbor. The neighbor realized that the guy
could do it himself, so it became a matter of convenience as opposed
to responsibility. I have found that people are more willing to
offer assistance if they know that you have alternative ways of
getting something done, and it wouldn't be as if you are depending on
that person.

Andy Baracco ACB-L Listserv

**17. This reminds me of some of the remarks I catch from sighted people about how I do things, like shopping, etc. I think it's just curiosity. Some folks
think offering their help makes it easier, and, sometimes it does help but the older I get, the more I find myself saying, if I don't learn how to do it
myself, I won't be able to live the way I want.


Ann Chiappetta, M.S.

**18. Hey Robert, Keep those thought provokers coming! Your stories have made a change in the lives of others, in many of the clients I work with who are losing there vision know now there is life after blindness.

thanks Myra

**19. Well, here's a chance to make a friend and share some ideas about independence. I imagine it could be fun to get the neighbor's phone number and ask if it would be okay to call if the snow blower is needed. You never know, when you
reject an offer outright, when you might want to take it back. Things happen, as with anyone else and there actually might be a time for accepting an
offer and taking the easy way out. On another level, what a great metaphor for things encountered daily - Do we walk independently, or use sighted guide? Do we work our way through a buffet
line, or let someone fix us a plate? Do we accept the offer of a neighbor kid to rake our leaves or sweep our porch, or do we add those extra tasks to
our normally hectic day? Do we twist and turn our way through grocery aisles, or obtain assistance from a store clerk, friend, or customer service rep? My answer to these and hundreds like it is "it depends." I imagine that's true for just about everyone else; we're just people not those little plastic
cookie cutter cut-outs; some days I'll take all the help I can get. Last Saturday I stood talking with my neighbor holding the groceries I'd just bought. I heard her grandson yell, "Need help?" I assumed he was talking to me, but didn't answer since I was pretty involved in my conversation. He didn't repeat the offer (I don't think his heart was in it), but if he had,
I would have said, "Take these heavy cans to the house, please."
Oh, well, there's always next time; and he keeps growing and getting stronger. Next time it might be 3 bags of canned goods.


kat Guam

**20. I have shoveled snow for many years. I recently purchased a snow scoop which looks like half a door and gathers more snow than a shovel. There
is a neighbor who does our driveway and walk occasionally with his snow blower, but he also does some of the other neighbors so I am not having it done
based on my blindness, but probably my age.

Each day is a precious gift.

David R. Stayer, LCSW

**21. I have been blind all my life and I will have to fess-up, I do not have the slightest clue on how to shovel snow. My wife will shovel, but if it gets real heavy, I call up a service and have them come out and this works, however there have been a few times when they could not come early enough and we've been late for work. I'll have to think about all this I am reading and may be give it a try. After all, it sounds like it is something I can do already, use a spoon and fork at the dinner table to clear my plate.

Daren Wells

**22. Spring came this weekend. It was around 60 degrees today, and
it looks pretty similar for the rest of the week. The mountains are
beautiful in the spring. I'm just glad I don't have to shovel them.

Kasondra Payne NFB blparent mailing list

**23. I have to say, I really find these ... thought provoking. Like Kasondra, I
grew up in the sun belt -- Texas -- and suddenly found myself in Upper
Michigan -- Keewenaw Peninsula -- 250 inches of snow. Up there we used a
thing called a snow scoop -- looks a lot like a wheel barrow with no
wheels. The thought provoking part is that I'm pretty sure how I would have
answered the question in the story, but unfortunately, in 6 years of
shoveling, no one ever made such an offer. Glad to say I'm back in
snow-free south Texas now. Anyway, to Robert, I really do enjoy these, and
to Kasondra, spring will be here soon.

Robert Shelton NFB blparent Mailing list

**24. Shoveling snow as a blind person, if you are very young and in great health it can be done to a certain extent. Steps, and a small walkway, yes but bigger
terrain I do not think so. Here is why. I live in New England in Leominster, the snow belt of Massachusetts, the Berkshires are a little worse. We can
get from a little over 2 feet of snow during the winter to more than 5 or 6 feet during the winter. Snow storms can be from a mere six inches, to over
two feet or almost three on rare occasions. I always have felt that snow is the blind man's or woman's fog. I do not care how good your mobility or sound
cues are snow muffles sound. Where you thought you had good direction on a side walk you lose it when it snows. If you have a little vision this is not
as bad but if totally blind, it is indeed a very good way to get totally lost. If it is deep snow shoveling for a blind person is just impossible. I speak
from experience. My late Husband Marshall and I owned a home in fitchburg for 12 years. We had certain limitations, mowing the lawn and shoveling snow. He was not in great health, and no longer had the strength to shovel snow in a major way. Our kids or others would do the shoveling. We could shovel our
steps or a small patch of walk way and we some times did that. But as the years went on, we hired some one to do all the shoveling. We lazy or irresponsible
home owners. Some of our neighbors thought perhaps we had no business owning a home if we could not do the regular tasks shoveling snow mowing the lawn
and such. We quickly remedied that fallacy, we hired people to do the job and they did the job competently. We got tips from a neighbor and someone who
came to do some possible landscaping. He recommended a fireman who did landscaping on the side. The person who shoveled our driveway for about three
years, was also a home remodeler. We had some one else do it when he could no longer do it. I think you have to admit your limitations as a home owner
living in New England. One of them is shoveling snow on a long drive way and a walk way especially when the snow is over six inches. I think we have to
be realistic and not always play the blindness type of hero saying I can do just about anything, and except graciously help from others. We did pay these
people who helped us. We also have to pay people and not think because of our handicap that the world owes us a living. If I had my choice I would move
somewhere Florida perhaps where there is no snow to worry about. I now live in a nice apartment, and do not have to worry about any home type maintenance. We lived in a beautiful ranch style home in Fitchburg. My husband owned the home with his first wife and then he was younger and they both shoveled snow. But not always if there was a severe snow storm, his next door neighbor shoveled. they were friends, and during the first year of our marriage Fred the
next door neighbor did some landscaping and shoveling of snow. He passed away in 1992 of liver cancer, and we went though a series of people, until we
found really competent help, which I mentioned in the above paragraphs. A last thought, being a responsible homeowner who is blind means being able
to detect problems with plumbing heating air conditioning appliances, and doing some of the work when you can. My husband was quite a handy man fixing
small leaks, and such, but we called in competent help when we had to. Also being responsible is knowing when the air conditioning or furnace has to be
maintained, knowing when the eaves the sun deck has to be painted, knowing when appliances have to be replaced and not just fixed. Keeping your property
clean and making it pleasant to look at. Being proud of what you have and showing that you are always being a competent home owner. Snow shoveling whether
done by you or some one else is just one way.

friend ship and peace


**25. As for me, I would be happy to pay a neighbor to blow out my sidewalk and driveway when I am out of town. I might even pay him to do it if I am at work
and he simply beats me to the tasks. I would also offer to do the same for him during his absence. I would discuss the fact that I consider shoveling
snow to be good winter exercise and am quite able to remove my own snow from my driveway and sidewalks. As for waiting until the snow is waist deep, that is a choice I opt out of. I simply clear the snow more often, when it is just a few inches deep. I guess
I prefer 2 or 3 periods of moderate exercise over one period of heavy lifting and throwing. I know a lot of people wait and probably prefer not to have
to suit up and go out so many times. That is a matter of preference. I must confess that I am better at shoveling my own sidewalk than I am at mowing
the lawn, although I have done that a time or two also. I think with practice I could become adept at that. Again, some of my issues with mowing aren't
blindness related. I never can seem to get the machines started, an issue of height and strength rather than blindness.

Nancy Coffman Lincoln, Nebraska

**26. When I lived at my parent's house, I would help with the shoveling. As the character in the story says it is orientation, determining where the
grass and concrete are and just keeping position.

I now live in an apartment in a large complex and the maintenance staff take
care of the sidewalks, though, I would really love to have an ice breaker to
finish some ice breaking they left to pile up. It was a task I didn't really enjoy, but didn't hate either.

Shelley L. Rhodes B.S. Ed, CTVI

**27. Since there is an alternative technique that appears to work, I think snow
shoveling is a great way to exercise; on the other hand, if a blind person
prefers to pay to have it done or use a snow blower, I think that is fine,
too; personally, when I'm out in the snow, I am not interested in shoveling;
I want to ski or throw snowballs.

conversely, on weekends, or when I'm not dead tired from work, I think snow
shoveling is another great way to exercise, but personal choice is key here.

Darla Jean Rogers

**28. Shoveling snow was not a practice I grew up with because I grew up in
California. I moved to Minnesota, in January 1995, to attend Blindness:
Learning in New Dimensions, (BLIND, Inc.), a wonderful training center for
blind adults. Well, I learned all I ever wanted to know about snow really
fast. I loved every new experience with it including learning all about
shoveling. I lived in apartment buildings for many years, so I didn't have
a lot of opportunities to shovel the snow. I was thrilled when my family
and I moved to Utah, in 2004. We got a large ground level apartment. I now
have a porch, and I get to shovel in the winter. I enjoy shoveling snow
because it gets me out into the fresh air in the winter, and I get some
physical activity. My husband has respiratory problems, so I get to do all
the shoveling. Besides, I like to watch people watch me shovel snow. They
just don't understand why the blind woman with one working hand is shoveling
snow. It's great!

Kasondra Payne

**29. I would want to know how you responded to your new neighbor's comment? Did he ask because he believes, despite seeing for himself that you can shovel snow, that you need help or did he ask because he may want to charge you a modest fee for his services. Perhaps he asked because he is just that kind of guy?

Mark Feliz

National Federation of the Blind of Arizona

East Valley Chapter President

**30. My brother in law comes with the snow blower and does the major stuff.
But I do take care of the steps and the back step gets the snow from the
If we don't get it rite away then we can't open the back door.
Not a good thing, since I have to take a dog out.


**31. Carl,

A blind guy shoveling off sighted folks' sidewalks! If that's not equality
and social acceptance, then I don't know what is.

I confess somewhat sheepishly that I'm one of those for whom orientation
while shoveling seems to have become an issue. It's my impression that this
has come about over the past 10 or so years as my last vestiges of usable
light perception went away. Or, maybe I'm just using that excuse to cover
the fact of how lazy I've become. Or--another alternate explanation--maybe
my 3 years' exile in Minnesota made me so snow shy that this is actually a
form of PTSD. So I finally caved and bought my wife a snow blower for

My suggestion to the man in the story on receiving the neighbor's offer
would be to say immediately, "How much do you want for that?" If he
wouldn't take money, then I think the fellow should offer some sort of
payment in kind.


John Huffman ACB-L listserv

**32. I shovel the snow at our house. Our driveway is about twenty feet wide because there is room for a place to park a motor home or boat or some other kind of recreational vehicle. I go lengthways down the south side of the drive, across the bottom and then up the north side and across to the path I just finished on the south side. I do this for a couple of rounds, and then I go back and forth from south edge to north edge and north back to south. I never wait until the storm is over to shovel. I've found with my health it's much much easier to shovel 6 inches twice than 12 inches once. We've lived in the same house for almost ten years and one day this winter the neighbor came over while I was shoveling and said "I didn't realize you didn't have help with the walks. I'd be happy to shovel for you." We shucked and jived a little about it, and left it pretty much unresolved--no commitments from him and no expectations from me. The next snow storm, I was out shoveling the walk and here he came. We worked together until it was shoveled and I gave him some cookies or candy or something I had just made. I think he was being neighborly. Although I am legally blind, I think he was offering help more because I am a woman and hey, I am willing to work along with
someone and give them a little something for it. It is being neighborly. Last summer when he went on vacation we brought in his mail for him. It's all just being neighborly.

Janis Stanger

**33. David shovels (pushes) the deeper snow with a shovel that looks like a plastic half door. It works better for him than an ordinary snow shovel. He saw
it advertised on the web, and sent for it. We also have neighbors who will snow blow for us if we don't get out in time. But he enjoys doing it, as a

Lori Stayer Merrick, New York

**34. I am glad to hear there are others that tackle shoveling snow but I don't have to put quite as much analysis into my work down to the last computation.

I live in the cold north and my home faces the harsh northwest wind and I must use guidelines to fulfill my duties because I am totally blind. I first clear off my front porch and clean my patio by shoveling my snow toward my gate and I follow the front of my house and the north high fence and the garage and follow along the east side of the garage and keep pitching it forward along the south side of the garage and as I advance forward I pitch it toward the road and the snow removal eventually takes it away. After the first round I do the main sidewalk by the garage and get it extra clean by turning my scoop shovel upside down toward the ground and scrape it as I follow the garage.
I then open my garage door and drag the snow away from it and I always have my big radio blasting for reference and find the edge of the driveway and shovel
along the edge and then clean the driveway which is approximately three car lengths long. I pitch the snow toward the pile I have already made and I
can hear the snow thump as it lands to keep me on track. I use a combination of my guidelines, my hearing, and the smell of Burger King as well as my radio
and I keep my stocking cap pulled down over my face to keep my forehead and nose warm because my winter beard does the rest.

Alan Hagenstein-N.D.

**35. I'm totally blind (since 6 years old.) I recall shoveling snow as a child with my mom. Also, in second or third grade an O&M instructor worked with me on techniques of shoveling snow. I own my own home and leave the shoveling up to my partner who is legally blind. Since we live on a corner we have invested in a snow blower. I don't even attempt to use it. I can shovel, but, it isn't all pretty. In 2002 we had 18 inches of snow and I had to shovel my way out. I chose to go up the drive way. The path did lead
to the side walk-in a not very strait line. But, I was able to get out the next day to go to work. We don't get much snow here-so, I don't get to practice.

With regard to blind people not clearing their own walks/driveways because they are blind that is crazy. As a homeowner you have the responsibility of clearing your own walks. If it means paying a company or neighbors kid it must be done.

Lori Scharff Malverne, NY

**36. Here's that annoying fine line again between independence and relationship. The main character was simply going about his business quietly and competently, without need of intrusion. The neighbor was trying to be genuinely friendly, but I think he was too forward too soon. Yes, the neighbor asked if the main character were interested, but the exchange was all too sudden, without time to ponder, or to get used to the neighbor a little more.

Mark Blier

**37. I'm frankly puzzled by this TP. Why is it so necessary for the blind to develop this elaborate system of checks and strategies? Born blind, growing up
in New England, shoveling was one of my chores in the winter. I don't remember ever having to develop a system like this, just because I was blind. I
had to be careful not to put the shovel through the window of a vehicle in our drive, but I never needed to re-invent snow shoveling because I was blind. A lot of blind people seem to do this, and I wonder whether it may be due to being involved in a lot of those systems for blind kids, like the mobility
system, that I didn't have much exposure to. As I say, it seems to be re-inventing the wheel to me.

As for the neighbor's "good job," this is an example of the kind of left-handed complement which makes me want to peg a shovel full of snow in his face
and cackle madly, "Yeah, that was a good job too, you condescending dork!" ... I would certainly not take him up on his offer, and would probably have,
in real life, told him no thanks, I can manage, and that I hope he would do as good a job as I did on his own property.

Mark BurningHawk

**38. I never really thought of blindness as being a factor in shoveling snow. As
a home owner, I know the area around my home, both inside and out. So,
shoveling just always seemed to be the right thing to do. Both my husband
and I are totally blind and do our own shoveling. Oh yes, occasionally our
next-door-neighbor will come over and do our walk with his snow blower, if
we don't get out before he does. But, that's just being neighborly. It's
not that he believes we can't shovel...he knows we can and do.
Incidentally, our neighbor, with the snow blower, is also blind!

I think the only thing we do a little differently than the gentleman in the
thought provoker is, we try to go out early, during the snow fall, and
shovel a little at a time, so it's not quite as deep and heavy as it would
be if we waited until the snow finished. But, the shovel gives us all the
information we need. So, as far as I'm concerned, unless there's a medical
problem which would prevent a blind person from shoveling, it seems
reasonable to get out and do it.

Cindy Handel Willow Street, PA

**39. Okay, I understand the "independence" angle. A blind person certainly can shovel his property, as long as he has memorized his boundaries.

When the neighbor offered "help," that's where the rubber meets the road for both of them. First of all, the sighted neighbor is keeping the Golden Rule: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This is defined as self-sacrifice. That is,
you offer help to people who are least likely to offer the same help in return, and expect no reward for yourself. Secondly, it would be interesting to try this on blind people of different ages. A younger blind person is taught to be filled with pride, "self-esteem,"
etc., to the point of fanaticism. This is especially true of the MEN. They are taught (wrongly) to assume that any offer of assistance automatically constitutes
a threat to their independence. It does not! It is simply a neighbor showing what used to be called "humanitarianism"...what little of it is left in this
world. If, however, the younger blind man can do the job, he should politely answer, "No, thank you. I can manage." He should not bite the other guy's
head off! The blind community has a serious public relations problem because of this hostility. On the other hand, an older person understands this from a different angle. As you get older, blindness actually becomes less of an issue. Now the big
problem is bodily weakness! Older people know all the news stories about those who die of heart attacks while shoveling snow. (I assume the neighbor in
the story had already gone to the older people first.) And so, grateful for their lives, the older (and wiser) person will say, "Oh, you sure can help!"

And what about the neighbor himself? At least he's trying to BE "neighborly." That word is too big for most Americans to say, especially New Englanders.
But, if that guy were a typical American, he would be hitting the internet blogs, whining, "Why isn't the GOVERNMENT doing something about this?! "Independence" indeed!

David Lafleche

**40. I would be interested to talk about how we could do this, him blowing and me shoveling. I would offer to him that we could take turns, him blowing one
week and I shoveling the next week. This way, we could take turns and not having him doing all of the work. I know he knows that I am able to do the
work because he saw me do the work on my own property.

I would explain that doing it this way it would save both of us time in the long run.

Reinhard Stebner

**41. I shovel my own snow all the time in winter with some assist. In the story present the neighbor waiting until the blind man get all done shovel his snow
is the normal way people do thing now. It is not helping one another. It is great that neighbor will do it rest of winter. But myself accept his offer
but I still would be just a irk at neighbor waiting until done shoveling the snow. I shoveling the snow I enjoy getting out and doing the job myself. I feel that I done something worth while.

Dexter Terry

**42. This was quite timely, since we had a ton of snow in Minnesota last week. I found myself thinking through whether I wanted to shovel my own walk or not.
I never did the snow shoveling as a kid; mostly the boys did the outside work and my sister and I did the inside work. As we got older, a neighbor of ours
did get a snow blower and blew out our driveway. (just because he wanted to.) That means I didn't get much instruction or practice in shoveling snow.

Currently, my neighbor has been shoveling my snow and I bake bread and cookies, etc for him. He's a bachelor in his 50's and hardly cooks at all. He'd
rather not bake, and I'd rather not shovel snow. So, when he offered to shovel for me, I told him I'd do some baking for him.

Still, when I read this story, it made me realize that I really need to get out there and do it. I think I'm just afraid I won't be doing it the way most other sighted people do it and I won't be as efficient as they would. This probably sounds somewhat insecure, but these feelings are real. On the other
hand, I won't get good at finding alternative techniques, unless I practice. Hmm. I was born blind. I'm usually up for doing most things, but the times I've tried shoveling, it's felt cumbersome to me. As with canoeing, I guess I'd get
better at it with time.

Kathy McGillivray Minneapolis, MN

Director of Disability Services

Bethel University

**43. You bet. That's to much work, even for someone in good shape.

Jack E. Mindrup

**44. Well, I do think the wide, plastic push shovels are a whole lot easier to use and control than
the old metal shovels. It is easier to maintain one's orientation as well because you can stay in
more of a straight line if you start with something to follow, then go with each cleared off place
you make; also, you don't have to worry about tossing a big shovel filled with snow on someone or
something else.

Jessie, who has to go shovel more of this ghastly stuff.

**45. I lived in Iowa for six years, and I always shoveled my walkway, driveway, and the public sidewalks that ran across the front and around the side of our
house. Taken altogether this was a pretty good stretch of cement to clear.

There isn't really any trick to it, you simply dig until you hit pavement, then toss the snow to the side. You can always tell when you've hit grass,
which is where you stop that row and you move on down the line. The only problem I ever had was the long sidewalk that ran the length of the side of my house, and along the public street, was partly mine, and partly the neighbor behind me. It was hard to tell when to know when I had pass my property line and was shoveling my neighbors walk. I often would keep shoveling until I hit the corner at the end of the block. Snow removal is hard work, but no big deal -- I'm not sure why sighted people should think us incapable of it, or why blind guys don't do it.

What I would like to know is if there are any totally blind guys who use a snow blower?

Brian Miller Alexandria, VA

**47. What a clever and energetic person. I'm indeed nowhere close to snow but,
hey, it sounds something that I could manage and love to do so long as I can
keep away from arthritis.

For me, I take blindness as a challenge and as a blind person would like
trying rather than, being negative and saying (I'm blind), I can't do it.
Life is interesting but with blindness one can be a hero. For the neighbor
that offered assistance, it must have not only amazed him. So, the gentlemen
is more than a hero to me personally.

Rakesh Chand Fegee

**48. I have shoveled snow on a number of occasions, when I was living at my parents' house back in college, for example, and it did seem like I would use very similar orientation and mobility skills to walking on snowy sidewalks, you have to use your traffic cues and use the shovel much as you would use the cane while walking during a snowstorm. Most of my adult life I have lived in apartments, so I haven't actually shoveled in a long time. Too bad that person
in this story couldn't send his neighbor with the snow blower over here, he would probably do a better job than our maintenance people. LOL.

Mark Tardif Cleveland Ohio

**49. I really enjoyed the story about shoveling snow when blind. I've never really given this any thought, but I guess it wouldn't be such a big deal. My dad uses a snow blower and plows like crazy. I'm surprised he hasn't gone deaf from the noise that thing makes! I asked him once when it was warm outside if I could get a look at the machine. So he showed it to me, and I thought to myself, "Wow! Just imagine a blind or visually-impaired person pushing that darned hulk of a machine, plus use their mobility aid of choice!" I just didn't even want to attempt it. During this past snow season at my apartment, a young lady who is not visually-impaired shoveled snow for us and she did a terrific job. Our downstairs neighbors in the vacuum store used to do it for us, but they don't anymore. I don't know if this young lady is paid or if she volunteers her time. I'm just thankful not to have to trudge around in it, cane in hand. My roommate got his guide dog in November of last year, and she loves to play around in the snow. I suppose if I were to try shoveling snow, I'd either use my cane in conjunction with the shovel, or just leave the cane indoors and use the shovel both as a shovel and to know where I am. Our other neighbors have pitched in as well, and together we work in community to get it all done.


Jake Joehl,

**50. I started learning how to shovel as a blind person when I was about eleven or twelve years old. Despite that it's good exercise, I did not like it then. I like it now, though. Not only am I proving to myself and others around me that I can do it, but it saves on having to pay somebody to do it for me. In addition and most importantly, it's a way for me to burn off the calories taken in over the winter. John is also in a power wheelchair but still shovels as well by using his chair as a plow. Together, we get the sidewalk and driveway cleared off. No, it's not always to perfection of spotless sidewalks, but we clean off what we can. What we miss, we sprinkle table salt on. There are times when I do get disoriented, but not to the point of being totally in the street or in someone else's yard; just enough where I might throw the snow in the wrong direction. When that happens, I just correct it by pushing the snow to where it was supposed to go. A few years back, we had some next-door neighbors who had to borrow shovels from different people, so John and I decided to help when we could. Since I knew the layout of the property as well as I knew ours, I was able to distinguish the sidewalk and driveway from the street. Not only have I shoveled the sidewalk, but I have also helped John mow the lawn. When he was able to walk more than he can now, he would mow half of the yard and I would take over the other half. When it was my turn, we both wore walkie-talkies with headphones and boom mikes to communicate with each other. He would tell me which way--a little to the left or to the right, etc.--as I pushed robotically. Come to find out in all this, various passersby who knew that I was blind stopped to watch all this going on, but they just could not fathom how it was that I did what I did. Not only was I cutting the yard, but I was doing as good as a sighted person--a blade of grass missed here and there, but not large clumps. It would not be until we told them how we did it that it halfway sunk in. Still, it was unfathomable to them. When John and I discussed the idea of me helping him cut the grass, I figured that, if I could drive a car in a parking lot and start mowers and chainsaws, then why could not I mow the grass. After all, mowing the grass was no different than vacuuming your carpeted house. So, that's how both shoveling and mowing the lawn on our own came into play. Now that John cannot walk the way he used to be able to, we hire people to cut the grass. However, we still shovel our own walkways. When neither one of us can shovel no more because of physical ailments, that's when we will hire someone to shovel. As to shoveling or mowing to perfection, whether it is perfect or not does not have anything to do with being sighted or blind. Lord knows that I have seen many sighted people cut their grass or shovel their walkways haphazardly, missing lots of places. As a home-owner, I think that it's very important to know the layout of your property. Not only does it allow you to become independent and give you ability to do a lot on your own property without always having somebody there, but it is also for safety purposes and establishing boundaries. Let's say that you end up with a next-door neighbor throwing things into your yard or planting things in your yard. If you know where your own property line is and the entire layout from top to bottom, you can easily contest the intrusion and establish your boundaries with the law.

Linda USA