I spotted two boys walking down our snowy street [the] morning [of Feb. 9], shovels in hand
“Ahh, I love it!” I told Holly, “industry and opportunity.” But not at our place, they decided, as they considered our mostly-cleared driveway, hoisted shovels atop their shoulders, and continued on.
Yeah, mostly-cleared. Oh well. I’d encouraged my first-born to pull our cars into the street, brush them off, and then sweep the driveway of the still-light powder, but a debate ensued as to whether moving the cars was absolutely necessary. Preferring natural consequences and peace to power struggles, I took a deep breath (right? Breathe in the flowers, blow out the candles … breathe in the flowers, blow out the candles … ) and gave up before becoming hysterical. Mother Nature may be a more persuasive debater than I, anyhow, should the leftover lumps left hugging his car freeze into obstinate chunks, but I digress.
But those two boys? I bet they made bank.
“Dan and I could have made some serious cash,” Noah said several hours later, when I mentioned the enterprising pair.
“True. My friend Miranda said a little shoveler-dude offered to keep her driveway clear through the storm for $25 bucks.” (Actually, seems she got the better end of that bargain.)
“I should go do that,” Noah said.
“Umm, too late, I think?” I said as I glanced out the window, figuring folks had managed by then. But what a killjoy I was! “Oh, that’s a great idea!” I quickly added.
“Ah, and the Mom-mind switches,” Noah said, grinning and tapping his temples. Phooey, caught again. I’d have loved to see that, though, two big powerlifter dudes helping neighbors, and just young enough to get away with scoring a little quick-cash for their efforts (memories of lemonade stands danced in my head) before adulthood sets in – for real. Oh, how I wish I hadn’t spoken so quickly. And then there’s the meditative side of shoveling and shared work they might have enjoyed. Can’t beat it.
The night before, when it was really starting to come down and I let the dog out for the last time, I couldn’t help but grab the shovel from behind the steps and take it for a spin in the dark. It’s only powder after all, I decided, pinched nerves in my back be damned, and besides, the best therapy of all, sometimes, is movement and joy. And I do enjoy a quiet snowfall – when the wind is low, and all is calm, all is bright. I just couldn’t get enough of the refreshing air, that night, or the barely-there sound of snowflakes piling up. And nor could my sidekick, the Big Red Dog, who enjoyed a rare romp in the white stuff sans leash as I shoveled. Up one sidewalk and down the other, and past neighbors who’ve anonymously done so for me, over the years, too. Felt good to return the favor. ‘Twas only a quick pass, and I’d feel it in the morning, but yeah, it felt good. And my boy-man?
“I was neighborly, Mom,” he joked the next morning, after leaving our snowy cars in the driveway and pitching in across the street to help our elderly friends with theirs. Never mind that he’d poked fun at the chore list I’d tacked to the fridge (my first one EVER! I know, what a slacker!) two days before in a moment of exasperation following another debate, this one about how much shoveling he could leave for his sister (“Half,” I’d said. “But what’s half?” Gah!). I’d tapped out of that one, too, electing instead to allow soft cursive script and appeals to his better side run my point home. My list (which includes chores for me, too) begins with “If you see something that needs doing, do it. Be kind. If you notice someone needs a hand, offer to help, please,” and “Shoveling: Noah and Holly share / divide this job or negotiate nicely about it.” Yeah. Nicely. And leave me out of it, for Pete’s sake, ‘cuz we’re all too old for these debates. And, finally, “Whenever feeling generous, shovel past the neighbors,’ too. Be neighborly.” OK, so that one stuck. I’ll take it.
Jennifer DuBose lives in Batavia with her family. Her column runs regularly in the Kane Weekend section of the Kane County Chronicle. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.