Even when my body stops moving, somewhere inside I am still bending, scooping, heaving.
Today is day four of this snowstorm that starts as rain on the California coast, drags across the Southwest like an endless grey quilt yanked across the sky, then rips at the seams dropping snow like so much white batting.
And between indoor stints of watercoloring and hot chocolate and cluttery games and hoped-for naps and Col making a super long Jenga domino track and Rosie sisterishly crashing into it, we shovel. Every four hours we suit up and head down our hazardously slippery steps, around our backyard where we scare up ravenous flocks of house finches, goldfinches and juncos to the front of the house where our shovels lie waiting.
Day one and two were exhilarating: sweeping the powdery moisture off the stairs like Martha Stewart had sprinkled our house with confectionary sugar in the night. We laughed as we trudged to the chicken coop—snow pants required—watching the conifers become Dr. Seuss-ish caricatures of themselves, or our swing set get gulped by the snow, rising steadily in the yard like a flood.
And even though the suiting up takes twenty minutes—most of which is ticked away by pep-talking Col into getting out of his pajamas and praising Rose for getting dressed so quickly but whoops, she’s wearing a mini-skirt and Col’s boots—it’s refreshing to get outside.
And despite the outdoor thermometer reading 32F, as long as snow is tumbling down, it doesn’t feel that cold. It’s like the friction of snow churning against the air warms it, or maybe we’re all distracted by the beauty, or perhaps it’s all that bending, scooping and heaving.
Col, like his dad, is at his best with tool in hand, making some imprint on the world. He tells me “I’ll do the driveway Mama, you do the sidewalk.” But there is no sidewalk anymore, just heaving drifts of snow. Every moment starts to feel like déjà vu until I’m startled awake from the rhythmic trajectory of my shovel scooping and heaving by the sight of shivery, forlorn Rose, standing right in my swing-zone. Rose typically does a little ceremonial snow-work before losing a mitten, turning a new LL Bean color: snow-kissed pink, and pleading to go back upstairs.
The chicken coop has become a bit of an igloo (high thermal values!), and yesterday afternoon Dan went to close the hens’ door against night predators and asked “Did you give them water today?” Turns out the forgotten water bucket got buried under a foot of snow. Whoops. I promise, when the snow stops falling, I will dig those girls out a straw-strewn cabana and serve them buttered popcorn and warm tea.
Today, day four, I believe the town’s a bit punchy; dizzy and giddy like we’ve been on a wild carnival ride which won’t stop. And yet, the conditions have knit neighborhoods into a tight tribe, everyone with the same shoulder ache and dazzled eyes. Dan and I will don skis, pulling the kids on a sled and when we make it around the block and see our neighbor and friend Jeff, I imagine it’s a little like Lewis and Clark making first contact after a perilous stretch of travels.
But then, with a wipe of the eyes, everything comes into focus; it’s a party and the whole neighborhood is out, celebrating.
There’s Kathleen pulling Neko on the requisite 6512 winter vehicle:
Or our friend and neighbor Tara hauling glaciers out of her driveway:
Nobody could say the goldfinches weren’t having a grand time:
There’s the kids getting on the best ride in town:
Dan, thinking ahead and laying in helpful weekend provisions:
And someday in April, or even March, we’re going to walk right outside without a 10-step prep process of guiding reluctant fingers into mittens, or searching for Rose’s one missing boot. We’re just going to walk outside and point and grin at the bare ground.
But for now, Viva la snow!