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?