i. We were out early the other morning with most of our neighbors—all bundled up and wielding snow shovels. To get everyone out like that, it takes enough snow for everyone to be somewhat invested in shoveling it early—before the trucks come through and shove all the middle of the street snow against your car—before the snow gets too heavy or ices up. And the kids were all playing. The neighbor with the snowblower took care of the sidewalk. Various ones took initiative to make sure the older folks’ walks, porches, and cars were cleared. And everyone was moving a serious amount of snow (because on top of everything, don’t you know, you had to clear to and around your car enough to clean off your car in order to clear around it again!). But when you got tired, there was always a conversation to join up or down the street. It was good.
ii. Later, we walked over to the hill between the elementary and the middle school with our kids, sleds and friends. “Yes, I’ll pull you in your sled there (slightly downhill), but you’ll have to walk back.” And we pulled them through the snow down the middle of the street, and there were others on the way; some already on their way back. And the hill was full of color and movement and noise. And it was fun to watch the fun. Fun to be a part of the fun. Fun to stand at the bottom and have the kids aim for you. Fun to stand at the top and visit with neighbors. It was important. It was good.
iii. Then, that night, it was nice to walk down a street knowing all the work that had been done for us to enjoy that walk—knowing how many people had been out that day to shovel their walkway, their part of the sidewalk (a few were out even then … just having gotten back in from work, I guess)—and knowing just how much work it was … having done it as well.
And so we could walk through the neighborhood to share a hearty soup and dessert with friends with the snow creaking and the ice cracking and the slush sloshing, with the snow in the trees reflecting in the ambient light, feeling a strong sense of connectedness—a sense of community within the neighborhood (nothing to take for granted, right?), guessing which houses housed children by noting how pristine the snow in some yards was between the cleared walkways and the shovel-fulls of snow on either side, guessing which mounds were usually bushes. And we saw snowpeople, and snow pets, snow forts, caves, and tunnels. I think I saw Snowhenge.
Even later, we walked back home, noting the hush against which all noise dissipated, noting how lights seemed so much more effective reflecting off so much snow, houses seemed cosier and warmer, walkways more inviting, and it was part beauty and part adversity overcome, and we enjoyed again being out one more time, anticipating the warmth of home, and I was tired and oh so full, and it was so very good.