Everyday I’m Shovelin’


By the time you read this, we will either be under a foot or two of snow or we’ll all be standing around in our kitchens wondering what in fresh Hell are we going to do with four loaves of Wonder Bread. I’m hoping for the former.

I like snow. I was born in West Virginia. I grew up in Lobelia up in Pocahontas County, and my childhood memories are rich with death-defying sleigh rides, particularly one Christmas day memory when my siblings and I spent the afternoon careening toward the half-frozen pond on a flying saucer before jumping off at the last possible second. It’s funny – my dad knew we were doing this; he even supplied us with a long stick of wood with a nail on the end in order to drag our sleds off the ice. But, if memory serves, he wasn’t actually there supervising us. He was inside tending the fire or tuning his guitar or something.

Anyway, now that I’m an old lady, I’d much rather sit inside in my bathrobe reading a book than go outside and sleigh ride. It’s a shame. I have a neighbor, 20 years my senior, a hearty German blonde who loves nothing more than to set her Radio Flyer at the top of our lane and sled down the winding mile-long hill, headfirst, snow flying into her mouth as she grins all the way down. She’s pretty cool.

However, I have to say, I love shoveling snow. I know. Weird. But I love it. I love the way my sweat mixes with the cold air. I love the feeling of accomplishment that I get as I carve a path around the vehicles. I love to see the shapes my shovel makes as I cut the blade down through the snow toward the grass. I shovel my driveway and, sometimes, I shovel my in-laws’ driveway too. When I do it, I feel hardy, industrious, which, if you know me, are not really words you would use to describe me. “Funny,” or, “often a little drunk,” that’s how most people identify me. Oh, and “exceptionally good looking.” Let’s not forget that.

On Tuesday, when school let out three-hours early, my eight-year-old spent the afternoon at her grandparents’ house.

“I’ll shovel the sidewalk and the front porch if you give me five dollars,” she told her grandma.

Well, Grandma ain’t no fool. She doesn’t share my affinity for shoveling, so she slapped that fiver right into my daughter’s gloved hand and told her where to find the shovel.

Later, my older daughter was lamenting her lack of money, and I told her that her younger sister had earned five bucks from her grandma for shoveling the sidewalk.

“Whatever,” my 13-year-old said. “Terry always gives her whatever she wants.”

(My kids call their grandma “Terry.” They also call their grandpa “Steve.” I cannot explain this.)

“Well,” I said, “I’m sure there will be plenty to shovel this weekend. If you’d like to earn some cash, you can help me shovel the driveway.”

“Ew,” she said.

So there you go. One of my young’uns shares my love for shoveling and one shares my love of staying cozy inside. None of us go sledding much. My younger one would like to, she just can’t find anyone to go with her. Poor kid. She needs to learn how to go do that stuff by herself, like I did, back in the seventies.

Anyway, this weekend I’ll likely spend a great deal of time shoveling. I may even carve out a path for my terrier to run. Or, I’ll indulge the other part of my personality and stay in my pajamas all day, drink red wine and read a novel. If I’m lucky, I’ll be doing a little bit of both.