Friday, February 7, 2020


I shovel.

Today the Denver metro area woke to inches of snow which had been accumulating all night and were certain to continue throughout the day. And that had led to the granting of snow days across most of the area school districts. So, the kids sleep, and the buses stay nestled in the lot, and the snow builds, and I sip my coffee and skim the paper as I warm up and prepare for the task that awaits ... shoveling the driveway, our common drive, and the sidewalks.

With my snow pants and boots, my heaviest coat and gloves, a bit of chapstick, and a giddy sense of anticipation, I stand on garage stairs as the door slowly rises on command, and I get the first glimpse of the powder just across the garage threshold. It's always different than it looked from the upstairs window. And as I step forward and push the first little path to check the depth, the weight, the water level, I always smile to see the darkness of the wet concrete reveal itself.

I don't understand people who don't shovel. What happened to shoveling? For as long as I can remember, shoveling is just something you do, like mowing the grass, getting the mail, and cleaning the dishes. But in many ways it's so much more than that. It'll certainly get your blood pumping, even as it brings a deep sense of calm and repose. The world just seems more alive at that time. Maybe it's the brightness across the drives, lawns, trees, and sky that accentuates angles you hadn't noticed before. At the same time, the calm muffled air relaxes the world and slows its pace. And as the paths are cleared and the drive comes into view, there is a sense of order and accomplishment to a shoveling job well done.

When we first moved into our townhouse seventeen years ago, our neighborhood seemed to care more about the responsibility and the opportunity that a snowfall provided. My neighbor and I across the way would be out soon enough working on the common drive and trying to clear it before two many cars packed the snow down, perpetuating the time it would take to melt later. Of course, we always cleared the sidewalks and made a path for the mailman as well. As the kids grew, it would always become a family affair, with each taking shifts and sections. And that second cup of coffee or hot chocolate was just so much better after coming in from a round of shoveling.

These days I still shovel, but I mostly take care of the common drive and the sidewalks alone. Most of the other driveways remain covered in snow, with either cars buried, or deep tracks from when the owner just tramped out through the snow to the car and drove away. And the peace that comes from shoveling is missed by all the people who take the weather event to spend even more time in front of their televisions or computers or phones. Kids don't seem to wander the streets with shovels over their shoulder looking for some quick cash, or simply the chance to help out an older resident. And the general consensus seems to be that if the car can drive over the snow, there's no reason to move it out of the way.

But, for me, there is still a reason. The reason is, simply, I shovel. Because that's what you do. When it snows, you shovel.

1 comment:

Ellen K said...

Perhaps that's your secret power.
Look up the movie "Mystery Men". I think there actually was a superhero called "The Shoveler."