Heuristic Rotating Header Image

Shoveling

I really didn’t mind shoveling snow: all the different colors laid in layers, or sometimes in wind-blown stripes. Iridescent, a peacock’s tail shimmering in each shovelful I lifted.

How could you not like that?

Sometimes the snow would be light and fluffy, and I’d throw each scoop toward the edge of the sidewalk. The stream of flakes would curve in the breeze, nearly always making it off the walkway. The hues would separate and blend and fly apart again, an effervescent rainbow intertwined. Those days I needed a scarf tied over my ears and heavy gloves to stay warm, even with the exertion of moving all that snow.

Sometimes the snow was wet and heavy, and I had to heave each scoop off to the side. The colors were muddier then, heavy on navy and mauve. Shovelfuls would pile up along the curb, guarding me from passing traffic. Sometimes when the snow was like that I would take off my coat and drape it on the corner fencepost because I was melting.

I hated snowplows, though. They’d churn the colors into a gray mush, solid and deep, hard to lift and difficult to move. I always left that part for last, even though I was most tired, because if I shoveled the plow berm first then inevitably the snowplow would be back through, filling my gap with monochromatic sludge.

If the snow was right and I had any energy left after the walkways were cleared and the car dug out, I’d make a snowman in the yard.

Sometimes I tried to roll the snowballs so that they were solid colors: a teal base, with a ruby red belly and a golden head, or brilliant blue all the way up, or… so many lovely combinations. I’d roll them back and forth in the appropriate patches, and even pick the snowballs up and carry them to another part of the yard to get more emerald, or lavender.

Sometimes I just rolled the balls around the yard, letting them pick up whatever colors accrued. Sometimes they were lovely, sometimes they made me wish I were colorblind. I tried to create a plaid snowman once, but I couldn’t get the base going in the right directions. I suppose I could have rolled a big ball then packed snow onto it by hand, picking the colors and blending them to get the pattern.

I’ve seen people do that, but with cold snow: like sand paintings, but even less permanent. You have to be so careful not to breathe on your work and accidentally melt it. I don’t have enough patience for that.

The sun came out as I finished the driveway, lighting up the last few jade flakes as they fell: big fluffy flakes, settling slowly onto the bare asphalt. I left them. They’d melt soon enough, and I liked the contrast against the black.

I didn’t much mind shoveling snow, though I can’t imagine how boring it must have been when it was all white.