by A. Richard Miller
visits since 071216; last updated 111223.

(Sunday, Dec. 16th 2007, in Natick, Massachusetts) We aren't just dreaming about a white Christmas. We're back indoors after shoveling - again. You, too? For the second time in four days, Jill and I have dug out our snow-catching (and snow-cacheing) driveway from over seven inches of snow.

It could have been worse. We got outdoors early, before the fast-falling snow turned to freezing rain, so it was still semi-fluffy. Thursday's dump (which stalled highway traffic for many hours) was fluffy. And there are two of us. And this year, we are equipped.

Jill throws snowWe bought our electric snow thrower two years ago: a
Toro 1800 Power Curve Electric Snow Thrower. We bought it near the end of that winter, and last winter brought us very little snow. So this week has been El Toro's real shake-out, and it performed admirably. It fits between the car and the stone walls! It shoots that snow up and out of our deep driveway! It can leap tall buildings at a single bound! (Okay, that last was an exaggeration; it often takes two bounds.) Between performances, it is low-maintenance - no gasoline fumes or fire hazard, no messy Spring clean-out and no start-up woes. One of us can lift it, and it stores easily. If your driveways and walkways are all within reach of an electric cord, we recommend it highly. About $300 at most of the obvious stores, when they're in stock. Or see Craig's List, for a good used one that's local to you. (We saved over $100 that way for one that was like new, and the seller bundled in an extension cord.) Eh, TORO! (And that's no bull!): (Pick your region, then search on: "Toro 1800", etc.)

Jill speaks softly...We have another new weapon in the fight for winter mobility: a Trade-Craft 60" Telescopic Snow Brush. It's not just another car brush. It easily extends, up to five feet long. Its brush and squeegee end pivots so you can clear your long car roof (we've got a wagon) easily, dragging large clumps of snow the long way while standing alongside the car. (No more aching arms, or dragging the snow onto you.) Its ice-scraper end can pop off (but only when you want) for separate use. It's light in weight but seems to be built for ruggedness, ease of use, and even good looks. We've seen these for $20-30 online, but just bought ours for $10 at BJ's Wholesale Club. That's just a tad more than the cost of a good ice-scraper alone. It promises to become the other half of our arsenal against General Winter. Our snow brush has blue closed-foam grips and is longer, but otherwise looks like 
this one.

We haven't solved the problem of The Returning Snow Plow. You know; the one we pay extra taxes for, so it can sweep by right after we've completed the job, corking our driveway with a new ridge of compacted snow. Over and over. We are keeping the snow shovel and ice breaker for that. (We rejected the alternate tool - a bazooka - as we really do appreciate the folks who do this work; we just wish they'd stop closing off our driveway.) And we're saving the sand-salt mixture for another day; perhaps, tomorrow. These traditional New England tools count, too. But we like our new ones!

[Update, Dec. 2011: After we'd happily used our Trade-Craft snow brush for years, a friend borrowed it and quickly demonstrated that a long lever can be bent. We no longer see this model sold, but BJ's Wholesale came through with a two-fer, its own Berkley & Jensen (63-032 UDX) Snow Brush Multi-Pack for $14. This includes a smaller but rugged snow brush with ice scraper, and a very similar, even more rugged 52" telescoping snow brush with removeable ice scraper, pivoting brush, and "superior dual bristle technology". (We can tell the black inside bristles from the red outer ones, but why is that superior?) Despite that mystery, and the mystery of why this product is not on-line at when it's on the shelf at the store, this is one good snow brush! Still, it's not built to be a crow-bar, so we'll think twice before lending it out for strength-of-materials testing.]