Wednesday, January 28, 2015

One Scoop at a Time

Summer days that push the mercury above 95° are rare here - even in Southern Maine, where I live. Snow during the winter is not. In fact, it has snowed every. single. winter since I moved here almost two decades ago. That's almost 20 years of snow. Even I, not a native, have come to accept the fact that it will snow.

And so, I live my life during the winter aware that it will snow, and I stay ready for that inevitability.

Sometimes it's just a little snow. Anything below 3" is a dusting, and sometimes, we don't even bother to shovel such a tiny amount. Between 6" and 10" of snow prompts some warnings and reminders to be mindful of hazardous road conditions. When the forecasted snow levels exceed 12", things start to close down, and in spite of the fact that snow is a fact of life, people still tend to get wigged out by it, resulting in last minute runs to the grocery store for bread and milk or beer.

Our most recent storm was a Nor'easter, which is a bit more intense than just a snowstorm - although not an uncommon occurrence here, either. In the almost two decades I've lived here, there's been a Nor'easter every year, too. The Nor'easters that don't bring snow are actually worse than the ones that do.

Of course, giving the storm a particular name might make us feel like we have more control over it, but the truth is that it doesn't. It doesn't make us more prepared to deal with it, either, if we're not prepared to begin with.

For me, the hardest part about these storms is cleaning up. This storm dumped somewhere between 22" and 30". There's no official total for my town, but we're in between several towns whose totals were in those ranges. The snow wasn't the worst. It was really the wind, which blew the snow into drifts.

In fact, in the midst of the storm, I had to shovel a path back to our rabbits and chickens so that they could be fed and given water. Today, I had to reshovel the path I made yesterday, because the blowing snow had covered any evidence that I had shoveled the day before.

We had shoveled the snow away from the back door so that we could get out, but we had to move it again this morning.

Yes, that's snow a quarter a way up the door. The door is far enough above ground level that we need a step.

I'm not going to say that I like shoveling. I don't, but I don't mind it, so much, either. The hardest part is getting out there, but once I'm there, once I start, it just gets easier. It's one shovel full of snow at a time until the spot is cleared.

It becomes contemplative - like running. I never really liked running, but when I had to run, in formation, with my unit when I was enlisted, it actually was a kind of pleasurable experience. The hardest part is starting, but once we got the kinks out, I could go into that place where my mind just wandered and I noticed stuff, like the setting moon, the morning star, the rose-red dawn sky, and the world waking up.

Shoveling today was like that. I heard the birds. There was an occasional car on the road, but it's noise was muted by the blanket of snow. My dog's collar jingled every now and then as she snuffled around the yard trying to find where those chipmunks have their nest. It was peaceful and quiet. It wasn't even cold.

One shovelful at a time.

And, then, I had a cup of coffee in the snow chair I made.

Life is really good, and I'm blessed to live in such an amazing place ... even if I have to, occasionally, shovel a bit of snow.

1 comment:

  1. That snow looks gloriously ready for snowmen and sledding to someone who doesn't have to shovel it.
    It does seem extraordinary that there are people who can't remember back as far to last year in order to get ready for such an annual event with a few extra canned goods in the cupboard. I mean, it's not like anybody forgets to prepare for other annual events, like Christmas, for instance..