In my 20’s, most of my work holidays were taken up with travels, with the rugby team. Now, they keep sneaking up on me – I feel like I repeatedly miss an opportunity to take a trip, whether to see family, or to just see something I haven’t seen before.
The beauty of two recent holidays is that they fell on or just after days of massive snow accumulation. If I were a kid, still, I’d feel jilted – what, they can’t cancel school, as it already wasn’t going to happen?
But in spite of the shoveling effort required and the fact that my street is usually one of the later streets to get plowed when a St. Paul snow emergency is declared … I’ve felt lucky. Marooned in my house, or at least on my block, for most of a day. Most errands can’t happen: I’m forced to face the snow head-on, enjoy it for a bit, and then retreat to the warm couch for reading, tea, and/or a hot bath.
The first order of business is our civic duty: to get our sidewalk cleaned off. The more selfish duty of revealing the driveway follows. We finally got a snow blower last year, so large amounts of snow aren’t quite as daunting as they used to be.
The machinery breaks the glittering silence, but the growling rhythm creates a new tableau for my mind, as I put the shovel to areas too delicate for the blower: the front steps, back stoop, and some of the shortcut that the mail carrier insists on creating.
The painting is: the scrape of the metal across pavement, the thud of the metal not moving across lawn/garden edges. The whuff of the shovel-load landing where I toss it. The foreign sensation of my gloves on frozen fingers, in the minutes before my accelerating heart beat can rush warm blood to them. The brush of snow across my cheek after the snow blower sends it aloft. The whistle of the wind, and the tinkling – or clucking, in the case of the wooden chime – response of the wind chimes.
When I pause for a moment to try and wiggle more warming blood into my fingers, I hear another shoveler’s distant scrape, and feel my breath in my chest and nose hairs. I attempt to make eye contact for a hello from the show-blowing neighbor, but fail, then feel a small bit of shame for taking a break. I hear two flakes land on my thin cap, right near my right ear.
I pick up the shovel, and head toward the back yard. The snow blower is also too burly to cut a trail back to our composting bin, so I tackle that task, with my legs and feet. The snow is nearly two feet deep, and the swish of my boots passing through the passage is more effective, at first, at breaking that trail.
After a few more passes like that, then one with the shovel, my task is done, but I’ve just discovered a new one. Our vegetable garden, hidden there near the composter, is pristine. Blanketed, aside from the stalks of the sunflowers I left there for winter interest. Interesting, indeed: ripe for a snow angel.
I was wearing just the right amount of fleece to walk away from it looking like a snowman.
I spend so much of my normal days, doing things to prepare for other things – or things to fend off other things. Snow days are such a pleasant suspension, and reminder that regardless of whether you plan things, or just let them wash over you, they are. And, they can be delicious.
That’s my yogic nugget for the day. Namaste.