My blog is suffering a post NaBloPoMo whiplash, going from daily posting to not even posting a Shotgun Post last week. As the days have gotten shorter I’ve felt a little bit overwhelmed and not very talkative.
The snow that fell last week (twice) and blanketed everything with a heavy coating that slowed the world to a crawl is a good metaphor for how this time of year can feel. I don’t remember it seeming like this 20 years ago, but it is definitely the case today. The “to do” list grows faster than it can be cleared and the Sun just isn’t around enough to cheer you up.
But progress is going on. Lots of shoveling has been accomplished. I look out on the driveway and I see that the half that I cleared is bone dry. Beautiful — no ice or anything. The half we use for guests was covered with snow twice, rained on and is now frozen solid. I expect to see the blacktop again sometime in April. Clearing it was not an option; the snow there is just too heavy and too voluminous. And now, too frozen.
And raise your hand if you, too, enjoyed the pleasures of shovelling snow in the freezing rain this weekend. I learned something about myself out there.
I called my somewhat-cleared driveway “beautiful” but it’s not an accomplishment I can take much pride in. It was unpleasant work, but it’s not as though I had a choice, or as if much thought had gone into it.
It was some of the least pleasant shoveling I’ve ever done. Freezing rain pelting you and soaking you through is a real deterrent to being outside, never mind flinging snow. And it didn’t take too long before parts of me were quite numb, and my head was pounding. When I finished, I barely felt like I could lift the shovel as I tramped up the drive.
But, rather than go inside, I started to build a snowman. When the girls saw, they came outside to help, and to build their own little ones. So, we were all out in the rain, building snow sculptures. I wasn’t sure if they would even last the day, because the forecast was saying that the 33 degree rain would later hit 40 degrees (it didn’t). Building a snowman in the rain seems like an exercise in futility, but it seemed necessary, for sanity, to not go back inside the house until I had something to show for my work that was more than a clear driveway (a driveway which had been clear the night before).
I had to build a snow-ramp to get the heavy torso snowball up onto the base, and it took me a while to get underneath it. The next-door-neighbor’s snowman was challenging me. I admit to some competitive spirit rising within me. When I was a kid, I remember a snowstorm in which my uncles came over to help us dig out and they ended up sculpting a giant snow camel in response to a giant snow frog that the neighbors had constructed. My crazy rabbit was going to have to be big enough to devour my neighbor’s snowman, if it came down to that.
The snowman was completely frivolous. The kids weren’t even planning to come outside. My neighbor across the street was just coming out to clear his driveway as I was creating the torso, and I think he thought I’d lost my mind - soaking wet and wrestling with 70 pound chunks of snow. But I was already soaked and miserable from shoveling. I figured that unless the thing fell over and injured me, I couldn’t be any more miserable. So why not continue?
Of course a snowman is frivolous. But what I never realized before was how necessary it was. It’s clear to me now that if I don’t build snowmen once in a while, I’m going to go completely bonkers.