mne-shoveling-2

Flagstaff has been blasted by every type of snow in the past week. Light, fluffy snow that coats the world in sparkling beauty. Slushy snow that’s half rain. Snow that’s so wet on the ground that it soaks through your waterproof boots. Horizontal driving snow that stings the face and makes you feel like you’ve been sunburned. Snow that falls so thick it is more like a fog.

But when it comes to shoveling, our treatment of snow is egalitarian: It must go.

Whatever the official weather report says, don’t believe it. Because I personally shoveled foot-deep snow twice a day Monday through Friday of this week. That’s 10 feet by my count. At least it seemed that much.

Of course I like to shovel the light fluffy stuff. It is kind of fun. It leaves the shovel in a stream of sparkling cascades, gently smoothing out whatever it lands on.

The wet stuff is different. Fifty pounds to a shovel full. And it takes hundreds of shovels full to clear the driveway, the arcanely long driveway that puts the car at the back of the house. The shoulders ache. The back aches. The neck and arms ache.

When the driveway is half cleared I’m ready to drop. I slump over the handle of the shovel that is planted firmly on the ground. I take deep breaths, make some whining sounds, get ready to quit.

Then I go on. I vow to pick up less snow in each shovel full. Then I see the meager progress and start straining myself again. I ignore the pain and promise myself a hot shower and a handful of ibuprofen tablets as a reward.

Somehow I finish. It has been 30 or 45 minutes. Or 1 to 2 hours.

I go to work.

Eight hours later I do it all again.

I feel sorry for myself. Then I think of Haiti and what it would be like to trapped in rubble, dehydrated, hungry, and losing hope.

I notice how beautiful the snow-covered trees are, and notice a sliver of moon though a clearing in the clouds. I hear the silence. I smile.