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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Early Morning, Post-Snowfall, Minneapolis

A note, from deep within the “ideas” book that I carry.  While the note is only two months old, it was a whole ‘nother season, a time when the outside doubled as a walk-in cooler, I lived alone, and the world was, contradictorily, both larger and smaller…


It is 6:30 in the morning, and I’ve awoken to find that four inches of snow have fallen since last night.

Some winters never end.

I pull on my boots for the 800th time this year.  I marvel at this number and the fact that I’ve got just the one pair of boots.

Mental note to self:  Another pair of boots would not be overly indulgent.

Where yesterday the ground was bare, four inches of white now cover the world.  Tree limbs, snow-encrusted, hang heavily in the pre-dawn light; the roads have but a few tire tracks.

I stand in the middle of the road.

This town is mine.

It is two blocks to the bus stop.  On the corner, it is just a sign stating “bus stop”, no enclosure.  There is a woman there, shoveling.  In early-morning, work-to-do fashion, she is wearing flannel pants, boots, a light jacket and gloves.  Her hair, pulled into a disorganized ponytail, sticks to her face as she sweats her way toward a cleared sidewalk.

I stand in the street so as not to leave my boot prints where she will soon shovel.

I think I recognize her. 

“This isn’t your house, is it?”

She looks up.  “Nope.”

“But you live around here.”

“Yep,” she says.  “Next door.”

“And you shovel both?”

She straightens up, arches her back and rolls her head from one shoulder to the other.  She leans on her shovel, shrugs, jerks her head at the corner house.  “We’ve been neighbors for, what, 20-some years now.”  She lowers her voice.  “She’s old.  She can’t handle a house on the corner anymore, not in the winter.”

I smile at her, wonder if I will ever be as kind.  “You’re wonderful, aren’t you?”

She laughs, a cheery bark in the blue-gray light of morning.  “Oh, yeah,” she says, returning to her shoveling.  “I’m some kinda wonderful all right.”

Moments later, we are joined by a young man.  He nods shyly to me.  He is quite new to the neighborhood, very new, but we have seen each other before. 

I know that he does not speak English, and I will not embarrass him with my Spanish.

The young man looks at me from the sidewalk.  It is clear, on his face:  He is wondering why I am standing in the street.

He looks at the woman shoveling, looks down at his feet, then at the clear space she has created and it dawns on him: an untrod sidewalk clears better.


And he steps into the street.

Another day begins.

26 comments:

Indigo Roth said...

Hey PearlyGirl! This is lovely, a slice of prime beef from the deep freeze. Literally. Love it. Indigo x

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari Om
...I second Indigo's vote!! I could feel that morning and smell it's air and the stillness of unspoken kindness. An absolute gem.

YAM xxx

(PS - I recommend you look here ... stick with it, you'll like what you see!... I do this because the Aitch is too shy to do it herself xx)

Pearl said...

Indigo, thank you, my friend!

Yam, I went there, but it was "unfound". Shall make my way to your page, see what I can see...

Shelly said...

Ahh, it did my body good to think of snow on a 100 plus degree day and it did my soul good to think of folks like the lady, the young guy and you. There really are terrific people in this world.

jenny_o said...

A sweet, sweet post - lovely in every way.

And a life lesson: if you can't shovel, at least make it easier for the one who does :)

mybabyjohn/Delores said...

There you go..complete strangers thinking of each other in as kindly a way as possible.

Lady Vicki said...

Dear Pearl

Thank you much for looking at my blog, glad you found it. Auntie Yam downloaded your books for my mum's birthday and she has enjoyed them very very much. We would recommend them to anyone.
Lady Vicki

Optimistic Existentialist said...

A lovely post and one that everyone should read :) thank you Pearl :-)

Eva Gallant said...

There are some good people in the world. My neighbor often shovels off my steps and car for me in the winter.

Simply Suthern said...

When I saw the title of your post I checked the weather there before I read the post. Was thinking it didnt look like snow conditions.

Stay cool and dry.

joeh said...

And that is how you turn what most people would think of as an uneventful morning into a wonderful post...even though I said wonderful I am not gay...sometimes a word just fits!

Joanne Noragon said...

I love people making lessons. In the old days, when I exhibited at shows, I met my best friend on the road that way. Lucy. We were waiting for "the committee" to clear us for set up of a street show at 4 am. A woman came down the street, sweeping the gutter clean. I recognized her as a fellow exhibitor and asked what she was doing. Well, she was done sweeping her space and wouldn't more of us like not setting up on twigs and rocks and worse.

Almost Precious said...

What a lovely post, Pearl. Definitely a deviation from what you normally write but nevertheless it was a most enjoyable read.

Perpetua said...

Beautifully observed and written, Pearl. You really are a very good writer indeed.

Jacquelineand.... said...

You have a real gift for seeing and sharing the small grace-notes of life.

Daisy said...

a sweet, and encouraging post, Pearl. Kindness is not gone, at least, not in your neighbourhood...or mine! We are blessed.

Gigi said...

This post is both heart-warming and instructional. Who knew that un-trodden snow was easier to clear? Not this Southern gal.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a delightful slice of life in your town. Know what? Methinks you truly love it there where you live.

Daisy said...

Hi Pearl! I'm behind on reading blogs and trying to catch up. As always I so enjoy your writing, and I've very much enjoyed your last several posts even though I wasn't here to comment on them. I hope your wrists/hands are doing better and that you have a good weekend!

Robbie Grey said...

Simply pretty. The last line, especially.

Elephant's Child said...

There should be more of all three of you. Thank you.

the walking man said...

Yeah nice one Pearl, I just got the chill out of my marrow...let's just say you owe me a oppressively hot story next February to make up for reminding me how I would not survive any further north than Detroit.

River said...

very sweet of that woman to shovel snow for her neighbour, and yes, I do believe you will be as kind one day. Not that you aren't kind already, but you know what I mean.

Mitchell is Moving said...

My sister (when she was 12) used to automatically do that and mow the lawn for our next-door neighbor, who wasn't very old but had a very ill wife. She was also some kind of wonderful (and she would have given a cheery bark in response).

As for embarrassing your neighbor with your Spanish. he won't be embarrassed. Only you will. He'll be grateful. So, I hope you've gotten over that!

Ankur Anand said...

ah ! simply beautiful .. well written :)

Pat Tillett said...

A little slice of life in winter. That was really good. I easily pictured it all in my mind's eye.