Thursday, January 13, 2011

Small Woman with Big Shovel

It snowed again. I don't know why I should be surprised; it is winter and I expect snow.

I love it when it is falling, silently glittering in the light on the back of the house. This light is the Snow Gauge – it illuminates the velocity, the height of the snow piling up on the patio furniture. I peer out the kitchen window and guess at the depth – 6 inches, maybe 10. It is very pretty. It will have to be shoveled.

Out the front door, I sweep the snow away and discover that the blizzard dumped enough to come above the level of the porch. I take the wide grey shovel and start down the path. Alby made this walkway, laying the grey bricks in a herringbone pattern. We argued a lot about its placement, which he wanted to put to one side. I insisted that our symmetrical, Currier and Ives farmhouse needed a centered path. The path is here, somewhere. The snow is heavy.

The cars hunker under bulky white swells, the ends of their windshield wipers jutting out. I shovel a path towards the road, staring at the frozen mound left by the Town snowplow. This is more than two feet high and mixed with ice and sand. I can't do this, I mutter to myself as I continue shoveling. The snow seems almost blue in places. Blue, white, flecked with sand, it doesn't matter. It has to be shoveled.

Several trucks with snowplows hitched to their front ends drive by. Most drivers do not look my way. One of them waves jauntily. I am now closer to the end of the driveway; I've tried pushing the snow but there is too much of it. I settle on a two-stage method, lifting the top portion off and tossing it over my shoulder, then going in again to the same place, sliding the shovel along. I CAN do this, I mutter as I notice another truck. I stand up, and strike a pose, trying to combine frustration with the right touch of exaggerated helplessness. "Look at me, I am very small and this is a lot of Rather Heavy Snow." The truck belongs to the Highway Superintendent, and he shakes his head and drives by. Then, he backs up. He lowers his plow and swipes away the edge his workers left across my driveway. He rolls down the window and shouts, "just helping you out a little!" With a smile, I thank him and wave him on.

The piles on the sides of the driveway are up to my shoulders now. I hack away, carry, shove, sweep and lift. I take a break by the fire for a while and go back out, wearing Alby's bulky black Irish sweater and finish the job.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, when we lived in the A Frame, I used to love running downstairs at night when it was snowing and turning the lights on to the back porch. I guess that was my snow gauge, and I would know if we were going to have a snow day or not.