Kid the Elder, the one who can do some serious yardage with a snow shovel, and I just devoured lunch. Central Missouri has had its second big snowstorm in less than a week, and we’re dancing out that “Food is fuel” tune. I’ve cooked for every meal, baked cake and panettone, in part to have an excuse to turn the oven on but also because my usual strategy–leftovers for lunch–doesn’t work when you don’t have any leftovers. That’s one part kids home all day due to canceled school, but the other part snow shoveling is hard work–even more effective than standing by the open oven door.
This second snow was not as thick as the forecasters thought it could be, but it’s at least as heavy. The storm started as rain and switched to sleet, then to big gloppy flakes; in the early hours of the morning the temperature was 32, and during my first round of shoveling I was enveloped in a thin Scotch mist. We share a driveway with college-kid neighbors who have had classes canceled today as well. One was up to clear their back stoop–as it turns out, so she could get into the downstairs apartment.
Across the street, I can’t tell if the strategy was to clear the driveway by skidding a pickup all over it, or if he’s genuinely stuck. His roomie came out with an actual snow shovel (we’ve seen tennis rackets, dustpans, cardboard, and frying pans deployed for digging), and they rumbled off in search of some essential. My shoveling goal was to get to the empty bird feeder. Later we’ll walk downtown to retrieve our car: the mechanic knows which filter he wants to replace, but snow-laden branches have taken out his Internet so he can’t order it today.
Snow brings out a couple of conflicting attitudes in me. The curmudgeon wonders why people don’t shovel their walks and why they freak out about winter weather occurring during . . . winter. Snow in February isn’t breaking news on the same scale as, say, a hurricane during “hurricane season.” It’s the content-hungry all-weather-all-the-time channels, I mutter, and the “who needs infrastructure?” crowd getting wound up about predictable events. It’s the part that just set up a job search alert for openings in the Minneapolis area.
But I have plenty of help dislodging that frame of mind. Our college-kid neighbors don’t shovel, most of them, but they come outside in this weather, cheer, and test household objects to see if they make good sleds. Winter is my favorite time of year, and snow–this is just water!–is as close as I believe to magic. Last night, we decided to go out to dinner in case it was a while before we could get out again. Kid the Younger bustled outside as the plan was formulating and then came back to summon Brother and me. He’d started a snowman but the balls had gotten too heavy for him to roll by himself, as they do, so we rolled up our dress sleeves and hoisted the pieces together while he found sticks and rocks for the arms and a face. Whatever other preparations had seemed necessary faded, and instead we got wet and muddy and tracked down an extra hat and scarf for our guy. Today he’s joined by a fresh snowman up the block–and a few shovelers, and laughing that echoes down the street as they test the depth and the packability. Kid the Elder’s taking another turn with a shovel and I think I’ve got the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in here . . .
The city issued a memo about plowing cul-de-sacs. It’s tough all over!