Thursday, February 1, 2007

Snow Snow Go Away

It snowed today. I still drove to work...

I remember being only about three feet tall and following my mother with a washtub in my mittened hands. She was shoveling a path, taking the top foot or so of snow off and leaving the bottom four or five inches for my brother and I to scoop up and toss. It seemed a long way up to pitch the snow over the edge. I recall Jim having a harder time than I did (he was a year and half younger) and having some of his snow tumble back down into the ditch at his feet. It was bright, clear, cold, and we were excited to be helping Mom to surprise Dad by having some of the shoveling done before he got home from work. This was probably before Dad had gotten the snowblower.

And I recall years later using that snowblower in the semi-dusk of a late winter evening to clear our long roadside pull-off. I can hear the roar of the motor and the grind of the rotors chopping up the icy chunks created by the snow ploughs that had doubled the height and density of the snow I had to move. I was proud to be old enough to handle the monster and do a man's work, but bone weary when the job was done.

Even more worn out than when I would come home from shoveling the snowy walk of Mr. Deitz next door. I would have to strip out of my clothes just inside our door and go straight to the shower, because no one could stand the smell of chain smoking I brought back from their kitchen, where, after shoveling and being paid, Mr. Deitz and I would play some game of skill or chance and I would lose my wage and then win it back again. He was an 80+ year old son of German immigrants who had made a living as a tin smith and loved to joke and laugh. He had trained his fantailed goldfish to sit in his cupped hand placed in the tank, and he had patience enough to teach chickadees to take sunflower seeds from his lips. I liked him. He and his wife lived alone now, and he looked forward to the snow, when "Clemens" (as he called me - he was hard of hearing and I don't know if he ever caught my name correctly) would come to shovel, play, and retrieve two big brown bottles of Genesee beer from his garage before heading home.

And I suppose I had my fill of snow in New York, because I really don't care if it never snows here. I like to see my children excited by it, and it's pretty when it falls and lines all the branches of the trees, but otherwise I could happily never shovel it or drive in it again.

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