Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Shovel Full

I am not a winter person.

I know I have said this before, but this sentiment bears repeating.

It’s grey. It’s cold. It’s snowy and icy and windy.

We do not usually get much snow here in Essex County. But this year we were blessed with a couple feet during the course of a single day. A couple of feet of heavy wet icy snow.

It had to be shoveled. And I don’t have a snow blower. So I spent three hours after work - on the evening of my lovely wife Darlene’s birthday - shoveling. The kind of shoveling where you take a little off the top, a little off the middle, and then scrape the cement for the icy bottom layer.

It gets the blood flowing.

It gets the back screaming.

And it makes you envy the neighbors who have snow blowers.

While I was outside shoveling our two car laneway that leads up to our single car garage – the neighbors on both sides and across the street were out with their snow blowers – and one fellow out with a little four wheel ATV with a snow blade on the front – mechanically moving the snow amidst the roars of gas powered engines.

And I kept on shoveling.

Darlene was inside the house making a birthday dinner for us all on her birthday. And she was anxious for me to join our little clan.

But I was determined that while I was shoveling in layers by hand – and my neighbors were using their fancy machineries – that I was going to make that laneway perfectly clean, and the three feet high walls of snow right at the edge of the laneway – I would shape those walls to be perfectly smooth as though taped and pasted by a professional drywall tradesman.

The motors of the snow blowers around me kept whirring.

I kept on shoveling.

Daddy, Mommy wants you in here right now”, said my eldest Alannah through the front door.

Almost done”, I replied – with my always cool thumbs up reply in my man-mittens.

And I kept on shoveling.

As I worked further down the laneway towards the street, the snow got denser. And higher. And the whirring snow blowers around me stopped whirring one by one as their operators – content with their results – each returned into the warmth of their home, and the undying affection and appreciation of their family for their hard work on a cold snow winters night.

And I kept on shoveling.

Now Dad!” screamed Ashley-Rae – my youngest. “Mom’s getting really mad at you!

Just about finished”, I replied – finding it hard to lift my thumb again – let alone my arm that supports my thumb.

And I kept on shoveling.

When I was finished, I stood at the end of the laneway and admired my work with the beer I left stuck in a nearby snow drift. I looked at the cars in the laneway and realized there was still snow underneath. It wasn’t perfect.

So I put down the beer, and fished out the keys from my pocket with my numbed hands in my man-mittens. I unlocked the doors and brushed off the cars. Then I moved each down the laneway and shoveled the snow from beneath – chipping the ice from the tire marks in the snow up with the tip of the shovel blade. Content the spaces were now as perfect as the rest of the laneway – I moved the cars back into their proper parking positions.

Again, I grabbed my beer from the same nearby snow bank and resumed my position at the end of the laneway and admired my work.

It also bears repeating that all hard work should be admired when completed with a beer.

The walls of snow that lined the driveway – three feet high in most places – were not perfect.

Again I returned my beer to the hole in the nearby snow bank and grabbed my shovel, and started smoothing the sides of the walls on both sides and up to the front door.

That’s when I heard that grinding scrapping sound coming down the street. I turned to look just as the city snowplow passed by my laneway. And I could only stand there and watch as the salt infested compressed snow slid across the snow plows blade and plopped down on the end of my laneway.

The driver smiled and waved as he passed.

I walked down to the end of the laneway, shovel in hand, and started pitching the slushy grey ice chunks on top of my beautiful pristine white snow bank walls of the laneway.

Around me the whirs of snow blowers started back up as my once content neighbors returned to the icy cold. But the snow blowers couldn’t move the heavy grey salt infested slushy Ice chunks, so they each returned to their garages and reappeared with their shovels.

And I kept on shoveling.

Darlene appeared at the front door. “Let’s go! My beautiful dinner is getting cold.

I tossed the last chunk of grey road slush ice from the end of my lane way to the top of the snow bank. I grabbed my bottle of beer from the snow bank, and swallowed the last guzzle.

Darlene was still in the doorway.

“It looks beautiful honey”, my lovely wife said, and she kissed me on the cheek as I followed her in through the door.

And the neighbors kept on shoveling.

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