Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shovel, Shovel, Toil and Trouble

What's a neighborhood, if not a place to stand out on the sidewalk leaning on a shovel and complaining about all the snow.

If you're lucky (I know you are) there's somebody there listening to you whine into your scarf, all damp now because your nose is running and your mittens are wet. We've all been there. Sayin' we really hate the end of January.

We are not in a Wallace Stevens poem. The nothing hurts and the wind and the junipers are too much for one woman with a skinny carrot and a black hat pulled down over her ears and eyes so those icy spindles falling from the street light won't hit her face when the post bends over from the gale force blizzard of one (apologies to Mark Strand, I took his shovel too).

Anyway, the wind. Blowing hard. The lavender beret comes loose and blows down the street towards the towering plastic fence where all the dogs and cats in the world are fostered for the winter. On your street! My street! They howl the whole time. You can hear them --when the wind stops-- for a nanosecond. Gulp air. Wonder why . . . why are you outside???

We are so deep in the wintery winter. En Francais, winterminable. The lucky have soup or hot chocolate. The not so lucky, well . . . our democracy is failing them. At any rate, shoveling the sidewalk in front of the house is the law. And we have to buy seeds for the chickadees too. How can anything be so cute? The question is, do I have to do all this myself?

Andy, the guy up the street, will charge me $30 to run his shovel down the sidewalk in front of the house. If it's 10 feet, I'm a snowman. I can't give in. Is this really what capitalism is for? Really? Aren't we at heart socialists? Sharing the burden of life itself? A fading democracy of slippery sidewalks?

Yesterday, when it was warmer, I went outside in my shorts to deliver sunflower seeds to one more adorable chickadee. I'm sure it's a different one every time. I used a silver tray and draped white linen over my wrist. I never take a yard bird for granted. I live to serve.

I have family in Rhode Island where snow is a way of life. Streets are plowed, kids go to school, people walk around brushing snow off their shoulders as if nothing is happening. But when they want to, they can play the snow card and start telling stories like they were pitching a "storm of the century" script to Stephen Spielberg. Rhode Islanders are born storytellers. They'll tell you anything to get your attention.

On the other hand, those of us who live in the DC area are another kind of bird. Except for me, most of us fly south for the winter . . .

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Thank you for commenting! I appreciate it. I'll get back to you as soon as I can! Peace, Meredith