10 Great Things about Sidewalks in the Wintertime

One of the more depressing things about our car-culture society is that it forces us to view wintertime with apprehensive dread. When snow falls, driving sucks. Ice and snow might double or triple your daily commute. Thus winter, for most people, is a slow torture, stuck in traffic,  wait for a car to warm up.  Winter is like being trapped on a remote island, eternally scraping ice off your windshield like an Eskimo Sisyphus.

Well, winter doesn't have to be that way. If you're walking and taking the bus as your main mode of transportation, winter can be delightful. There's nothing as wonderful as walking through a snowy evening along a well-shoveled sidewalk after the first snow. So, try and forget about your commute for a second, and stop and enjoy...

#1: Transparency

Because leaves have fallen are off all those pesky trees, you can see new things in the wintertime. You can see from the tops of hills. You can spot the birds in the bush. You can see the river from the top of the bluff, or the downtown skyline from your back door.

#2: You can see which of your Neighbors are Assholes (or Missing)
All of a sudden, you can see which of your neighbors don't shovel their sidewalks. Nothing says "asshole" like 9 houses with nicely shoveled paths, and 1 house with a 3-layer cake of ice.

Plus, you can find out which homes are foreclosed, for sale or vacant. Or if you're a mensch, you can shovel the walk for the old lady next door who never leaves her house any more.

#3: Snow Makes Things Look Pretty

Snow is what makes Bob Ross' trees so happy. Snow makes nice visual highlights on trees, railings, and eaves like so many little frosting hats.

#4: Sidewalk Snow Canyons

Once you get enough snow, you begin to develop snow canyons on each side of the sidewalk. As these banks mount ever higher, your street starts to feel snug. You begin to feel like one of the marbles in the Sesame Street 1-2-3-4-5 video. Alternately, you can pretend you're hauling a stagecoach full of gold through a bandit-laden Wild West canyon. Embrace the excitement!

#5: Footsteps

Snow on the street means that every passerby leaves little footsteps behind them. There are little cat prints, There are people shoes, dog paws, or the marks of unidentifiable critters. All of a sudden, your neighborhood doesn't seem so lonely.

#6: Shuffling Your Feet

Ice, if it's predictable, can be fun. You can slide your feet along and pretend you're skiing or skating. You can glide and shuffle and pick up some momentum and slide into the nearest fence. Wheeee!

#7: The Underfoot Crunch  

I love when you walk on snow and you get that slight crunch underfoot, that tiny squeak of snow compacting ever so slightly when your weight comes down.

#8 Glittery Reflection

Snow sparkles and shines in the sunshine. Frankly, this is amazing!

#9: Long Wintertime Shadows

Because the sun is low in the Southern sky, wintertime shadows are long indeed. They stretch out over the white topography like great grey fingers, reaching across yards and fields and streets, searching for something mysterious.

10: It's Oh So Quiet

And I think my favorite thing of all about sidewalks in the wintertime is how the city becomes so very quiet.

We tend not to notice all the constant city sounds all around us all the time. The sounds of cars and airplanes and exhaust fans are so ubitquitious, we almost never hear them any more, the whirrs and hums of engines fading into an invisible background.

Snow changes all this. For the first time in months, the soft blanket deadens the sound waves, and a blanket of silent peace falls on the city. The sounds of car tires is replaced by the gentle wisp of your own breathing, and the whole world seems to get a lot smaller. 

So, embrace the winter. Watch your step, be sure to shovel, and enjoy the snowy sidewalks.

[Even Mary Tyler Moore loves sidewalks in the wintertime.]


Used Cars Twin Cities said...

Good point about the neighbor part. However I don't think someone is a jerk just cause they don't shovel; maybe they are just tired, sick, don't use their driveway, don't feel like shoveling for some reason. Just shoveling snow doesn't make someone a good neighbor....

Janne said...

#7 - there's a word in Norwegian for that sound. Knirker. (Which google translate translates as "squeek.")