I’ve just come in from shoveling snow from the third consecutive winter storm this week. This, with the cartilage-free zones of my knees which are about to be guillotined from my legs and replaced with metal and plastic joints next month. My new knees will allow me many new freedoms, such as learning how to dance the tango and how to set off alarms in airports. But that isn’t happening until March, so like all stoic New Englanders, I forge on. We woke up this morning hearing the kitten-like purr of our generator because we lost power. Kitten-like is a relative term, a sweet term even, bestowed because it is working and worth its weight in the bank loan gold we bought it with. Now the lights, internet, furnace, stove, and all their electric friends can be utilized at our will. The generator actually sounds more like a jack-hammer, but sweet sounds are relative.
My dear husband has been firing up the snowblower through all these storms and has had his marching orders up and down the driveway, trying to throw the snow wherever it will stick. When I snow blow I try to throw some of it in the road, as a grumbling protest to the snowplow drivers who seal up our driveway with snow that the guy up the road snowblew (is that a verb?) into the road in front of his house.
The last few storms the snow was fluffy, the stuff of magic, all sparkly and puffed full of air, easy to shovel, even fun! But today after I managed to force the door open and emerge into the winter air, my boots sunk into what was more like hardened mashed potatoes from three Thanksgivings ago that got lost in the back of the refrigerator behind the Chinese leftovers. I remembered all the warnings for overweight women over sixty-two who are on the verge of knee, foot and brain replacement surgery. Take small shovelfuls! Take deep breaths. Don’t torque your body in bizarre angles while hurling snow at a far away pile. Remember how often people die of heart attacks when they shovel! I think of this as I extend the extender pole on our roof rake and attempt to pull down the mashed potatoes without burying myself alive and killing myself that way.
I manage to navigate around the Subaru with a push broom, pulling off more snow onto myself. There is literally no where to put it all. Meanwhile the sun is flirting with me behind the clouds. I keep calling to it, “Come on little sun, you sweet little sun, please melt this stuff, have mercy on us mere mortals!” The sun remains capricous, she is kissing the inside of clouds but remains demure. I spend another fifteen minutes pulling an anemic little half moon shaped curve of snow off a section of roof. Then I see the lilac bush whose branches are buried. It’s all bent over in submission.
It takes me fifteen minutes to dig my way through the drifts to reach it. I tap the branches with the roof rake to shake the snow loose and grateful branches are set free. I keep snapping little twigs in the process and whisper “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” The snow is over my head on both sides of the path and I can’t finish the job so Peter does. He tells me later he snapped twigs and said sorry too. Good boy.
Back to the roof. Peter shows me how the roof rake extends and then he makes snow stairs for me in a snowbank so I can climb up and reach the top of the roof. I feel like the sinister penguin from the Wallace and Gromit movies, poised with my weapon. Or if you will, imagine a Winnie the Pooh shaped woman casting a javelin at her roof. I am Ishmael, harpooning the great white whale, Moby Dick. Or in this case, Moby Mashed Potato. As I cast the rake as far as I can and pull it back, imagining the blood and cruelty of whaling and wondering how on earth anyone could stomach doing such a cruel thing I realize this visualization doesn't help. So instead, I imagine myself tuna fishing and casting the line. That’s brutal too. Okay, maybe I’ll pretend I'm in ancient Athens on the Olympic field. Whatever I’m doing, all I know is that I'm feeling muscles I didn’t know I have engaging in my shoulders, elbows, neck and lower back. Heave ho and a bottle of rum! When the hell is the last time I bought a bottle of rum? Um, never, but it sounds good right now.
But there’s progress! I have pulled down a two foot thick wall of sticky snow and have a little Matterhorn on the ground in front of me as tall as the building. I am spent. And now we have enough blubber – er – mashed potatoes – to make it through winter. Clearly, the cold is getting to me.
I limp around the vehicles using shovels as crutches, and I scrape the snow from around them. We have little trenches everywhere between snow piles. Our personal tribute to World War I. Faithful husband who has been snow blowing all this time and has a heart condition and who works at home (or who is supposed to) comes up to me with a red face and icicles in his beard. He must return to the fort now for a hot shower and then back to his computer. We have hardly tackled the job in front of us, but we must rest from battle. We call reinforcements. At 6pm the cavalry, in the form of Alex the plow guy, will come to save the day.
Until the next incoming, I’ve had a hot shower, rubbed arnica gel on all my joints, and am sitting with a big mug of tea, praying that that frickin’ groundhog we’ve heard so much about will come back by special request and announce the onset of spring. I am ready for the blooming lilacs!
Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.