I've sold out. Today, after intense lobbying by my wife and elder son, I broke down and bought a snowblower.
The consensus was that I'm too old and decrepit to shovel snow anymore, at least without serious risk of a heart attack or stroke. No matter that I've been doing it the old-fashioned way since the Johnson administration (that's Lyndon, not Andrew), including during and after the "Storm of the Century" (or Great Blizzard of 1993), when I shoveled for two days straight and was piling snow more than six feet high at the end of the driveway. No matter that the shovel and I were still going strong here less than 12 months ago.
My father continued to shovel at my age (54), although he then decided to avoid the shovel/snowblower issue altogether and moved to Florida. I suppose a snowblower would be the cheaper alternative in the long run--although, if I use this thing six or seven times a year (about how often during a season that we have a snowfall really worthy of attack by a snowblower) and hang onto it for as long as 12 or 13 years, I'll still be paying around $10 for every time I use it. Besides, how am I to prove my manhood between December and March? What if they revoke my honorary Amishman's license? I used to be able to stand out in the middle of the windswept, snow-choked driveway for hours on end, hurling shovel after shovel-full into the yard, and feel mighty superior to my wimpy neighbors as they crept out of their comfy dens, pushed their put-puts up and down their driveways a few times, and timidly retreated back inside while I toiled on and on outdoors like a REAL MAN! Now, I'll be no better than they are.
However, I console myself with the knowledge that now my dear wife won't have to confront a snow emergency when I'm not around, with nothing but a shovel in her hand. In fact, now that I think of it, she won't have to do that even when I am around. She'll be able to drive that sucker up and down the driveway all by herself, while I protect my delicate constitution inside, lending her moral support and preparing hot chocolate to keep her going.
Guess I'm still a REAL MAN after all! ;-)