Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Ghost of Snowfalls Past

Snaking a path to the driveway (where the real work begins)
I hate shoveling snow. But I dislike a snow-covered driveway more. So like most folks who clear their own drives, I thought that last snow storm was a beast. We didn’t get a ton but the flakes were wet and heavy. You couldn’t just push it off the driveway; you had to wrestle with it a shovelful at a time. I was out of town when it fell but on my return, the plows had already cleared the streets. So of course that meant the front of my drive was packed with an even denser mound of snow. The phrase ‘back-breaking’ came to mind when I first saw it. It also reminded me of how snowfall was in the old days, out there as a kid with my dad. What happened next was textbook ‘me.’
It was after 11 p.m. and I suppose most people would have left the job of clearing the drive until the next day. That was not to be. After donning appropriate attire, I went back out and attacked the heavy snow with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, given the long travel day and late hour.
Why didn't I just use a snow thrower? The problem was, aside from the noise at that late hour, the machine I have likes to clog up and I feel like I spend more time clearing the chute than I do the driveway. That’s frustrating too because I hate shoveling. But I'm compelled to do it.
With each shovelful I questioned my sanity. After each scoop I wanted to quit. I wanted to be inside. Where it was warm. Where my back wouldn’t be stressed and hands could be warm.
Instead, I kept going. And that's the puzzling part. I wanted to stop but couldn't. What is it that keeps a person doing a thing they don't necessarily like? What compels them to see it through? Especially when it’s something that can wait? I don’t consider myself an overachiever and don’t think I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. So I wonder if it had anything to do with my father?
Haunting midnight snowfall
I remember as a kid growing up how dad always did the drive after a snowfall. He never waited and he never complained. At least not that I heard. When I’d go out to help, I would always be amazed by his strength, speed and endurance when it came to clearing the snow. I recall always being in awe. I also remember thinking I’d never be able to measure up to him when came to clearing the driveway and doing other things around the house. (Don’t get me started on his skills when it came to clearing leaves in the fall…)
Anyway, I know for sure that one motivating force for keeping the driveway clear is that it helps keep me in shape. And while shoveling isn’t the best form of exercise (it’ll wreck your back if you're not careful), I use it to supplement my workout routine. Dad didn’t have a gym membership. Maybe shoveling and yard work was his sports center.
As I think about it, maybe dad really is why I hold such an obsession for clearing the driveway after a snowfall. Could it be I'm trying to live up to his legacy? Such a juvenile thing to think about, I guess. Dad's been departed from this earth for years now. Yet sometimes I wonder if my going out to do the drive is my way of connecting with a man who instilled in me the often unconscious values I hold and practice as a grown man?

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