The XX Factor

Shovel This

Kathleen Parker today in the Washington Post hails the fact that the endless snow of this Washington winter has allowed men to be men and do what nature intended them to do: shovel. She says women shovel out of need, not desire. It’s true that an inability to open one’s front door provokes an irrepressible desire to start shoveling, but I disagree that this is a trait linked to having a Y-chromosome. I am a snow lover who has never even been skiing. So why do I love it? Shoveling! I’ve already been out in today’s mess to clear off the front steps. Not because it made any sense, but because I wanted to shovel. I shovel neighbors’ walkways not out of altruism, but out of a love of moving mounds of snow. The rest of the year I reluctantly endure workouts at the gym, but I can’t wait to spend an hour exhuming a snow-covered car. The other day I dragged my 14-year-old daughter off her computer and made her help me shovel a path to our back fence. By the end she was exhilarated. She said she couldn’t wait to reshovel it after this storm ended. She observed, rightly, that this was so much better than exercising for exercise sake: “When you shovel, you’re not just getting exercise, you’re also accomplishing something.”