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Mary Rea | Snow shovel debate goes on in the Methow

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Want to get an earful in the Methow Valley? Bring up the subject of snow shovels.

It’s always a hot topic. I won’t say that folks are passionate about snow shovels, but they sure are opinionated. There are proponents of every shovel style on the market and most people are happy to extol the virtues of the shovel they use and dismiss the other guy’s shovel as too heavy, too inefficient or too something else.

In our house, my husband has his favorite, a short handled aluminum grain shovel with a triangle shaped grip. But depending on the snow and its location, he sometime turns to a long-handled grain shovel, no grip. Nothing else works as well as far as he’s concerned.

I prefer a shovel with a plastic blade and medium long fiberglass handle …lighter to lift and the snow slides off better. No amount of convincing on his part will ever get me to believe his shovel is better than mine.

Shovels designed specifically for snow removal didn’t become popular until the early 1800s when city ordinances began calling for snow removal to be performed by homeowners. Since 1879 more than 100 patents have been granted to inventors of snow shovels. Early on, various forms of serrated edges were used for cutting and scraping snow before lifting it. One of the first patents for a shovel that both scraped and scooped was given to a woman, Lydia Fairweather, in 1889. The first patent for a plastic snow shovel was granted in 1939.

Our neighbor has a shovel she swears by that is plastic with a wear strip, a piece of metal attached to the blade. This, she claims, gives her the strength of a metal edge on ice, but the light weight of plastic for the scoop. It also has an ergonomic handle designed by chiropractors.

Another friend touts something called a “Folding Frame SnoWovel, which is supposed to perform equal to or better than a snow blower. It has large skinny wheels with the shovel on an axle between them. The ads say the shovel “defines the new physics of snow removal.” After watching the wheels get stuck in the snow many times, I’m not convinced.

Most winters, people would be about ready to hang up their shovels for the season. But this year, with all the snow still on the ground, there could be weeks for the Valley

Great Snow Shovel Discussion to continue. Not sure anyone’s mind will be changed, but its fun talking about it.

Mary Rea of Mazama is the author of the novel “Ladies Night Out.” Her blog, which follows where her mind wanders, is at She can be reached at

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