The dark green Carhart coat is heavy and warm. I pull my Muck boats on over my Smart Wool socks and tuck the inner lining of my snow pants into the boots. Adorned in my best snow gear, I head out to shovel.
The town plows drive up the center of my little road clearing a path just over one car width. They back down the road compacting the remaining snow. My ‘plow guy’ clears my driveway leaving a large pile of snow in front of my shed further blocking the road. He forgot. I asked him to plow the snow to the town’s plow ridge and to widen the street. I’m willing to pay the extra. Sigh.
“You look like a member of the town crew,” my neighbor across the street says referring to the bright yellow reflective vest and gloves that complete my shoveling outfit. I was at the corner of my yard clearing the street drain. He came over. I chuckled. We shoveled. Sigh.
When the drain isn’t clear, the water ponds up the little road alongside my house and spreads out across Birch St. like the sprawling flood waters of the Nile. Once across the road, these dark sludgy waters cease to flow becoming an above-the-ankle ice lake. And when it freezes, an ice chute; our very own Snow Bowl car toboggan run out onto Birch St. So, I shovel. Sigh.
Keeping the street drain clear is the town crew’s job. I rode wing a few years on Vinalhaven. I’m familiar with the work. The crew I’m sure is doing what they can to plow and wing back and scrape the roads for safe passage. The timing of plow ridges clogging up ends of driveways just after they’ve been cleared. Digging out hydrants and drains comes later. It is a blessing, really. The grateful and ungrateful townspeople. Sigh.
I allow myself to sigh; to take the momentary deep breath, the pause in the repetitive chore/act of shoveling. To shift from being a frustrated, ungrateful townsperson to an appreciative, grateful one. The town plows and the person who plows my driveway have moved more snow than what is left behind for me to shovel. The temperature is just right to be outside shoveling. The wind has cleared the light fluffy snow completely off the back deck and steps as well as my car. The other deck – not bad. My new neighbor offers to come over with his snowblower. He creates a little path between our houses then heads over to the snow pile in front of the shed. There’s room to turn around now. The laughter of his very young children sliding off the ‘snow hill’ he created for them. There’s time to clear a path to the fuel pipe before sunset.
Jesus repeatedly tells us there are blessings in life. God is present and hears our sighs of exasperation and relief. Those with eyes will see. Those with ears will hear. Those whose hearts are open will receive.
My hands and shoulder throb and there’s the hint of a twinge in my back – a reminder of arthritis and being ‘disconditioned’ (thank you to the doctor who used that term). There’s soup and grilled cheese for dinner and a cat waiting to sleep in my lap. Night comes. A plow drives by spreading calcium chloride and sand upon the road. The snowbanks are taller and dirtier than before the clean-up. There will be no flowing Nile across this road – no car toboggan run. Not this time. Not this storm. Sigh.