Shoveling Snow


Shovel by Railing

Tuesday morning, five a.m. I awaken to a gust of canyon wind rustling the panes. Our bedroom window reveals downy snow glistening from quaking aspen branches. I slip quietly out of bed so as not to awaken my wife, and then check the outdoor thermometer, which hangs beneath an eave. Two degrees.

Though an early riser, I admit my first impulse is to return to bed. Instead, I dress by moonlight in long underwear, lined jeans, heavy wool socks, and a thick flannel shirt. After brewing a hot cup of tea, I add to my attire a down vest, wool hat and scarf, and two layers of gloves. Then I venture outside.

The area we cleared last night now has four or five inches of freshly-fallen snow. The air is glacial; the stars are numerous and bright. In this pre-dawn hour, I retrieve a shovel and get to work. The walkway, long and narrow, contains several stairs. I begin with those. Push, lift, cast. This rhythm encourages thought. I remind myself that in this dry region of northern Utah, ample snowpack promises ample water come spring.

I envision red-veined sorrel leaves emerging from snow-covered berms, yellow crocuses poking through near-dormant earth. Within twenty minutes, snowbanks line the edge of the walkway. A path is clear.

The driveway to the street is much longer and broader, and flanked on either side by snow-covered shrubs. Deer cut across it last night leaving hoofprints, reminders that night creatures traverse our homestead. I follow these tracks to an icy stream before returning to my task.

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