To Shovel, Then Melt and Shovel Again

24 January 2015

Just as civility from all reports seems to be rusting away from the body politic, comes this story from…well, from the block where I live. A well-forecast snow storm over night dumped half a foot of snow…just as predicted…a heavy, wet, ready-to-turn-to-slush snow. I took a leisurely time over a latte, knowing the snow would be there for shoveling, when I licked the last of the latte from a spoon. Donning snow gear, I threw open the door to discover my next door neighbor, heaving the last shovelfuls of snow from my driveway.

He had just finished, when a kid with a snow-blower, who had just cleared my neighbor’s sidewalk, went by. The kid, who I had never seen before, started clearing mine as well, an endless seventy-five-foot stretch with a Ben-Gay chaser. I’m standing on my stoop, slack-jawed in disbelief, but the kid never looked up, likely too embarrassed to accept thanks. A man with a snow shovel, who I also had never seen before, came after, clearing bits of snow the snow-blower had missed. At that point I made my way down to the man to shake his hand and ask him what quadrant of heaven he had come from. His son, manning the snow-blower, by that time, had disappeared around the corner on an evident quest to do all the sidewalks of all the houses on our block. It turns out that this family of snow clearers lives around the corner…funny how insular we get in our houses…but we had never met.

My next door neighbors for the past two or three years, when snow has been heavy, both footage and weight, have been shoveling, first a little bit over the line from their house to mine and now ever more, afraid that at my age…though, I feel young…I should be cutting back on the shoveling. Last year I opened the door, after an overnight snow, to find their daughter polishing off my stoop and the sidewalk up to the house. Just in case we think we can make it in this life without the help of others, we should think again.,

As a speaker at one daughter’s sixth grade graduation said, We live in the shade of trees other people planted. How true is that.