"One Shovel Wide"

"One Shovel Wide"

© 2015 Robert and Gary Rice

On a silent snowy morning, 'neath the January moon,
She was walking by my window, passing by.
With her shovel in the pathway, clearing diamonds in the snow,
One shovel wide, she pushed those snowflakes high...

Our Lakewood street was long, closely one third of a mile.
The night, it was so bitter and so gray,
Yet in that time of darkness, shone a bright light with that deed.
One shovel wide, to give the children way.

No frozen feet and ankles did our students have that day.
No slipping, sliding, falling on that walk.
'Cause a thoughtful Lakewood neighbor gave an hour of her time,
One shovel wide told more than we could talk.


One shovel wide! One shovel wide! Pushin' back that snow, one shovel wide!

With her shovel in the pathway, clearin' diamonds in the snow,

Pushin' back that snow, one shovel wide!

Recently, in the darkness of a January morning, I looked out our window, and was amazed to see that a lady had cleared a one shovel wide pathway through the snow; so that our students might have an easier time making it to school. While I really do not know whether she had shoveled the entire street or not, she'd done quite a bit of it, to be sure. This beautiful selfless act on her part inspired us to create this song, and also, for me to suggest the simple saying "One Shovel Wide" on the Lakewood Observer's community chat room "Observation Deck"; as a way of encouraging others to start thinking about clearing their walkways at least "one shovel wide". It's a small step, admittedly, but at least it's a relatively safe one; once the shovel has done its work.

This posting has quickly generated over fourteen hundred views in just a few days, indicating that I've apparently touched a nerve. Many Lakewoodites, it would seem, are very concerned about our winter sidewalks.

Let's face it, we need to address this situation NOW. The topic of shoveling snow (and the lack thereof!) seems to come up every year around this time, and with no small amount of controversy connected to it. Some of our residents and businesses routinely clear their walks every year, while others regularly ignore the job. Indeed, quite a few residents might not be able to personally do so, for a variety of valid medical reasons. Many, if not most communities however, (including ours) do have sidewalk snow removal ordinances.

In the past, our city has also collaborated with various community groups with a "CLEAR 4 KIDS" program, encouraging timely sidewalk snow removal.

Still, from year to year, this problem keeps returning. With nearly six thousand Lakewood public school students, the vast majority of whom walk to school, (and, adding to that figure, a number of private school students, as well) this is not a small concern. Nor will snow go away on its own. Lakewood's sidewalk snow removal problem is one that potentially places all of us in danger, and not only the students. I've personally had more than a few close-call-falls myself in the past decade, any one of which could have been deadly serious. In speaking with my friends and neighbors, my experiences have not been unique either.

Whatever long-term solutions there may be to the annual sidewalk clearing issue, perhaps we might at least consider starting with that "one shovel wide" approach? Perhaps block clubs, youth groups, church groups, school activity groups, and others might consider volunteering at the neighborhood level, and start working from there?

It needs to be stated here that the City of Lakewood does indeed have small vehicle sidewalk plowing, and they indeed do efficiently cover the municipal sidewalk properties in Lakewood. They have also recently purchased a more specialized plow for sidewalks, and have used that one on the residential Franklin walks a few times.

Lately, the City has paid a great deal of attention to residential sidewalk repair and replacement issues during the summer months, and has, particularly in the past year, worked much more closely with residents with more of a team approach, regarding improved sidewalk management. As people are understandably much more attentive to the summer sidewalk issue now in Lakewood, perhaps this would be an excellent opportunity to consider ways that we might improve our sidewalk safety in the winter, as well.

While it would be wonderful if Lakewood could expand its small vehicle municipal snow removal program someday, perhaps in the meantime, it would not be too much to hope that we could all work together...at least long enough to forge a common pathway; just one shovel wide?

Read More on Pulse of the City
Volume 11, Issue 2, Posted 1:08 PM, 01.20.2015