Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shoveling Up the Past

We had another major snowstorm last night, and my son was out there shoveling before the flakes had stopped falling. I considered staying inside but--and I know this may sound strange--I love to shovel snow.

My daughter, born this day 24 years ago, has on previous snow days informed me that I am officially too old for this sort of activity and advised that I shouldn't expect her to venture out into the cold to help retrieve my corpse until Spring's first thaw. But still I grabbed a shovel and joined my son. He focused on digging out the cars; I tackled the front walkway.

Shoveling out reminds me, as nothing else here in New England, of my boyhood in Lakewood, Ohio. The muffled wind reminds me of the much stronger winds off Lake Erie, a block from our house. After the shoveling came snow forts and snowball fights. Or skating on the flooded field at Lakewood Park. I'm reminded of my mother's milky hot chocolate, topped with a turban swirl of Reddi-Wip, and the smell of pot roast. The cold  reminds me of "Triple Skate" at Winterhurst and post-skating sundaes at Malley's.Of the Browns vs. the Packers. Of downtown Cleveland, smoke from the steel mills frozen in gray. Of the strangely pleasant pain of near frostbitten toes warming in front of the TV--the Idiot Box, as my father called it.

What about you? What season or sight or sound or smell or physically risky undertaking reminds you of the good old days that seem to get better as your back gets weaker?


  1. Jim, that's a lot of snow there.

    Your post took me back to a few years ago when my sisters and I had told our dad to stop shoveling the snow. He was much too old, even if he is quite strong. He wouldn't stop, and we continued to worry (especially after he had fainted a few winters ago while shoveling). After that frightening event, he assured us he was strong and not to make a fuss. We decided to take matters into our own hands and hired a professional snow shoveling service without his consent. They come each time it snows, sometimes twice a day. Dad has recently admitted that it's nice to have the snow service.

    As to your tweet: What sparks your imagination?

    For me, usually beautiful images, seeing new and old places during my travels, people following their dreams, hope, and great stories (like the one you wrote).


  2. What nice daughters! I'll have to forward this post to my children. Think they'll get the hint?

    Travel does it for me, too, although I don't do nearly as much of it as I used to. Random conversations with strangers as you travel are great fodder for stories. Thanks Mia!

  3. I feel exactly as you do about the snow and winter and cold. I remember the winters in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania, where we raised our kids. Especially, one winter when we had several feet, and I was so engrossed in listening to the audio version of ANNA KARENENA (sp?) that I actually walked in the stuff for miles, every chance I got, pretending I was in Russia.

  4. I love that image, Jody. Sounds like a book cover: A woman walking in deep snow. Title: "Listening to Anna K"

    Thanks for commenting. jk