Snow Day Neighbors
I should have worn my sunglasses. That was my thought as I looked at Randy in his, heaving the shovel full of snow onto the pile. I've been out here for over an hour. I finished my car and my parking spot in about 30 minutes. Now I am shoveling out Her parking space. I don't know Her name, but it seems irreverent to type "her," as though it isn't a proper noun and she isn't a proper lady. She could be my grandmother. She doesn't get around so well, but she drives. I don't want her to shovel, so I'm doing it. This is paying it forward.
Last winter I had knee surgery. I couldn't shovel... at all. A lot of my neighbors helped me out then. Several of the storms were bad enough that I'd have waited weeks for the snow to melt. So I am helping Her out. Someone further up the cul-de-sac is playing music from a car. The sun is out now. The kids are gathering with their sleds. They use the hill beside my house. It's steeper and more open.
I hear Randy's wife, calling to their oldest at the bottom of the hill. The youngest, Mazy, is uninterested in the hill. She is sitting in the white. Eating some of it, but mostly sitting in it. I remember communing with snow in that way... the need to sit in it, lay in it. Be one with it, Mazy.
Linus is missing. I heard his mother call. She is growing more concerned. The calls are louder and more insistent. It is drawing our attention, we shovelers. We are slowing, looking, craning over cars. His father hasn't seen him either. He drops his own shovel. I am scanning the cars, the parking lot, and the yards. "He's here!" Mandy calls. She saw him playing with Jacob. We all breathe a sigh of relief. And we go on, building our mound of snow in the cul-de-sac. The kids will play on it later. Like we piled it up just for them. Maybe we did. Maybe we only pretend to be adults on a mission to free our cars. Maybe we really want them to play in the worst way, so that we can all smile and laugh.