On the morning of the snowstorm, I am awake at the usual time. There’s no rush to get going. Still, I turn on the coffee and check “what happened overnight on the Internets,” as Jimmy would joke.
From my father, I read a gang email to all five of his children, exhorting us to clean off our cars before the temperature drops below freezing. His message may affect each of my siblings differently, but me, I feel watched over in a good way.
I put on my gear and go outside. Jimmy shovels; I clear the cars properly, even their roofs, and then I shovel around them.
Snow removal from the cars, driveway, and sidewalk takes about 90 minutes. We jam the shovels in a snowbank — it’s great snow for igloo-making, why don’t we make one? — and walk over to the shops at Putterham Circle. Only two are open: the convenience store and Starbucks. While there are no cars in the rotary that feeds the shopping center, inside Starbucks it is steamy with people.
Then we walk, lattes in hand. It’s easy to shuffle across the intersection and down South Street. We walk and walk and pass only a few neighbors, here and there, out shoveling or snow-blowing. Ogden Street has not yet been plowed, and on the snow’s surface are chestnuts, still in their pods, that have just fallen.
Near Bournewood, we throw our empty cups into a dumpster in a driveway.
As we walk through the hospital grounds, I say, “I think Anne Sexton stayed here. And perhaps Robert Lowell.” Jimmy asks, “And Sylvia Plath?” McLean, in Belmont.
An impatient plow forces us off Bournewood’s main road into an open space. The snow makes me notice, for the first time, an old volleyball net. “The world is strange again,” I say. “I feel, oh, ten years old, like the day is for exploring.”
Jimmy says, “Days like this are slow. They make me slow down. No multi-tasking.” The scene also reminds him, he adds, of a nuclear winter. “What do you mean?” I ask. “No color,” he says.
Everywhere we look, the branches of spruce and pine trees are bent down to the snow, making little hideaways for creatures. I go in one.
Suddenly, my legs are stinging with cold. I feel my glutes as though they are big hunks of meat. I think, too, of animal haunches as big hunks of meat that we cook and eat. “Let’s run a little,” I say, and we go home quickly, my legs warming up.
On the Internets are two more messages from Dad to add to the first:
- It would be a good idea to clear all snow and ice off of an outdoor car to prevent a future frozen car door.
- Make sure your windshield wipers are free and clear of ice before you turn them on. A good trick I use is to lift the wipers off the windshield into an erect position so that they don’t freeze to the window.
- Open each car door and with a rag wipe the moisture from the rubber gasket, so that you won’t be surprised by frozen doors.
Done, done, not done.
It’s a good day also for indoor chores and cooking. I make milk punch, prompted by Brian having posted the link on Facebook. I sand and seal the top of the kitchen table. Later, George, Grace, and I make cookies. There’s some talk of scallion pancakes, but by then I’m done.
The kids start to wish for a second snow day, and I secretly share their hope.
Thursday morning, we try to get going a little early, to leave time to warm up the cars, distribute boots, and collect the coats and gloves that have been drying in the basement near the furnace.
In the backyard, away from the scraped roads, the world still looks strange, and as though it will patiently wait for us until there is time again for a long ramble.