I don’t have a scientific diagnosis for my present state, but one of its symptoms (besides the usual lethargy, weeping, and weight gain) is a strange urge to shovel the lawn.
It’s true. Yesterday I shoveled the front lawn.
It was a tough weekend: 36 hours of snow, schools called off and businesses closed on Monday, a two-hour late start for the schools on Tuesday, sub-zero temperatures again this morning, and yardstick-deep snow drifts all over my front lawn.
I wrote earlier about my little neighbor boys who use my lawn as a shortcut to their bus stop. Tuesday morning I watched as they floundered their way across my yard, clumsily blazing a trail through the new snow drifts, up to their knees, just so they could catch the school bus. (Before you feel too sorry for them, remember I told you that they did have the option of walking on the plowed street.)
Something inside of me snapped. Some primordial urge to protect my young (or in this case, my neighbor’s young) from the cold clutches of winter.
An idea began to form.
During the day, my resolve deepened. Old Man Winter with his snow drifts and blustery squalls would not beat me down. As God is my witness, as God is my witness, it's not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again . . .
Good grief. This was worse than I thought. I was starting to quote Scarlett O’Hara.
I knew I couldn’t follow through with my plan when Tom was around. He doubts my sanity on a normal day when I’m doing ordinary things. So I waited until late afternoon when he was downstairs on the treadmill. Silently, I pulled on my coat, my hat, my mittens. Stealthily, I opened the door and crept out to the garage. I picked up the shovel and started scooping snow, making a path where my neighbors’ little footprints were sunk deep into the snowdrifts.
Five cars drove past while I was shoving. I could feel the drivers slowing down to gawk. ‘There was this old lady out there, shoveling her lawn,’ I could imagine them telling their families at the dinner table that night. But I didn't care. My mission was to move snow. I would save those boys—single-handedly—from a wintry demise.
After about 15 minutes, my sweaty shoveling had produced a crude path for the boys to walk on. I stomped it down with my boots to make firm footing for them. My job was done. I crept quietly back in the house.
This morning, I watched out the window as the boys discovered the path I had shoveled. Gleefully, they ran down the track. I stuck my head out the door. “Good morning!” I called. “I shoveled your path!”
The third grader cheerfully called back, “I know! I was going to thank you when I saw you!”
I felt so much better. Incredibly better. One small victory over winter. Winter is probably winning the war, but I had won that small battle and saved the children!