Shovel, then play

Enormous thanks are owed to our area’s highway and public works crews, the men and women who work hard to plow the roads and sidewalks so we all can get out of the house safely on days like Wednesday and Thursday, when 1 to 2 feet of snow fell on us.

It was our first major dumping this winter, which has been a relatively dry one overall. That doesn’t mean these public workers have been idle, though. There’s been a great deal of ice, and they’ve been out spreading tons – literally, tons – of sand and salt to keep us all from slipping.

They do a wonderful job, and we’re grateful.

Plow operators can handle all our roads at times like this, but in the Tri-Lakes villages, it takes them a little longer to get to the lesser-used sidewalks. That’s understandable, so that means the rest of us villagers need to do our part.

These villages have many pedestrians who walk to work, shops and other errands, and on Thursday most of them were walking in the streets. That’s unsafe.

If you have a sidewalk outside your home or business, please shovel or plow it out as soon as possible, if you haven’t already. It’s your duty to the rest of your community, one that used to be taken more seriously back before villages brought in sidewalk plows in the early 2000s. Yes, those sidewalk plows are being put to good use, but at busy times there aren’t enough of them – or staff to operate them – to clear all the deeply buried sidewalks.

Fire hydrants, too, need to be shoveled out, and you can help with this as well.

We hope a great many teenagers and children strong enough to shovel made good use of the time off from school the last two days, clearing their own sidewalks and driveways as well as other people’s. There’s money to be made, kids.

We also hope they got out spend a good amount of time outside playing in the snow. You’re only a kid once.

Meanwhile, please shovel safely. The older the snow gets, the heavier it will get. Save your back; bend at the knees instead. If the shovel you have makes your back sore, go out and buy a new one. They’re for sale at stores all over the area, and they’re a lot cheaper than back surgery, physical therapy or a visit to the chiropractor.

Meanwhile, even if you’re sick of winter, you might as well make the best of it. We urge you to get out and ski, snowboard, snowmobile, skate, ice fish or whatever outdoor winter activity you prefer. Snow and ice conditions should be pretty good this weekend, despite today’s warm-up, and there’s no guarantee they still will be the next. This will be the last weekend of the season for Big Tupper Ski Area, and you can also ski or snowboard at Whiteface in Wilmington, Pisgah in Saranac Lake or Titus in Malone. There’s tubing at Pisgah and the Lake Placid ski jumps, and Lake Placid also has the toboggan run and skating oval going. Plus Tupper Lake has a Brew-Ski event Saturday at its cross-country ski center that starts at the golf course.

It’s a winter wonderland out there. Make the most of it.