A Snow Storm of Shame and Gratitude

Here it is, my shameful secret. I’m terrified of our snow blower. Heavy equipment, with sharp whirring blades, requiring the mixing of electricity and gasoline, buttons and chokes, – uh- uh. Visions of dismemberment dance in my head whenever I get near it. I’d rather shovel. Up until today, that is. 

The Kind Neighbor, A.H.

Normally, I can handle most snowstorms by shoveling halfway through the storm, but not this time. These ten inches of heavy white snow fell in the wee hours of the morning, long after I had fallen asleep and long before I would awaken. Yes, it is beautiful, and my God, it is heavy. This is the fourth snowstorm in a month, which means that with three and a half feet already on the ground, the berms are nearly as tall as I am. Translation: I must lift and throw the heavy snow very high to get it out of the way. After thirty minutes of this activity, my wrists and shoulders ache and I am dripping with sweat.

I had barely begun and I felt like crying. Luckily, my whining Norwegian elk hound distracted me. Apparently, he couldn’t get into the backyard to play or poop because the snow was so high. I guess I would shovel yet another pathway. Husband out of town and son at college, the snow was my problem. Or so I thought.

My next-door neighbors, J.H. and A.H. were outside snow-blowing their drive. I tried to avoid their eyes. I felt ashamed. They had rescued my husband and me so many times before in so many ways – the salt of the earth New Englanders helping the helpless California transplants navigate the perils of the east. I waved hello, put on a cheerful face, and kept to my shoveling. I firmly planted my eyes on the task ahead of me, determined not to impose on them yet again, when suddenly, I felt the spray of snow on my face.

There was A.H., the expert snow blow – driver, barreling down my drive with her noisy machine. Her family had bought the upscale model, still complicated, but not as scary as mine seemed. (Mine looks like it came out of your crazy uncle’s garage; a relic from the 1950’s.) So, as I shoveled and cleaned off the snow buried cars, the amazing A.H. once again rescued me.  In less than ten minutes, A.H completed what would have taken me more than four backbreaking hours.

I felt an overwhelming mix of gratitude and shame. Grateful for her kindness and ability, and ashamed that as a life coach and a high powered, well-educated businessperson, I had once again needed help. I could not have done this job alone without injury; but I felt as though I should have known better or done better. The “I shoulds” buried me more deeply than any snowdrift could ever: ‘I shouldn’t be afraid of a snow blower, I should buy a better one, or I should hire a service.’  And while I busily wrestled with my emotional panic, A.H. looked at me and smiled a genuinely kind smile, and I relaxed a little. She had saved the day. My snowplow wizard in a winter cap and snow frosted glasses had rescued me once again, and she seemed happy about it. What a relief! Maybe, I’m not just a hopeless burden after all. I thanked her profusely, and promised that I would do better next time; that I would make her dinner and do her laundry or whatever else she required (for at least a week) and then I turned my attention to Dante, the spoiled, but very cute Norwegian elk hound.

Norwegian Elk Hound

Dante, the Snow Dog

I began to dig his pathway when my other neighbor C.S. (hey, those are my initials too!) came bounding into my yard with a pair of snowshoes. “Put these on and stomp around your backyard; it’ll make a path for Dante, no need to shovel!” So I did, (after she helped me figure out the buckles) and once again, I was filled with joy and gratitude. Not only was Dante the wonder dog able to do his duty, but stomping around out there was actually fun! What a revelation: A snowstorm at my house could be fun! Another bit of New England wisdom had been shared by a generous and knowing neighbor.

So that’s my snow story of shame and gratitude. I’m not perfect. Sometimes I need help and I am grateful to get it, and yes, I need some snowshoes of my own. There is a lot to learn about New England if you are somewhat new to the area, and thank goodness for kind friends and neighbors. They are truly a blessing.

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Date: Saturday, 29. January 2011 13:12
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Creativity & Fun Stuff, Relationships, Self Actualization

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