One of the ironies for Canadians is we act surprised when the first snow storm hits. We act downright insulted when the second arrives. When they come back to back, we are perplexed, like the Gods must be angry at us. We’re Canadians. Snow is our birthright. Perhaps that is why shovelling it feels a little like giving birth.
Speaking of labour, mine began last week with the issue of the dreaded driveway. Covered in a white blanket of deceptively heavy snow, the driveway is technically not my area of responsibility. Outdoor chores fall under the Carpenter’s duties, as do all similar tasks, such as lawn moving, weeding, fence construction, etc.
For reasons not clearly defined in our marriage contract, the inside of the house and its seemingly less strenuous work (snort) seems to fall under my jurisdiction. So when the driveway is covered in snow and I know my spouse is soon to pull his truck in after a two hour commute, I feel this debate of consciousness; do I shovel, or don’t I? That is when I get a mental image of my beloved standing on a frozen job site from morning until night, wet and cold, with no relief, while I worked from home in my pajamas, typing quietly away, warm and cozy with a hot cup of tea and heated, indoor plumbing. How could I possibly ask him to shovel the driveway?
Dressed in bizarre winter attire that looks like I’m the love-child of Johnny Canuck and a frozen Sesame Street puppet, I brave the elements complete with my red maple leaf toque and my ice-fishing galoshes. I try to shovel, I really do. Did I mention I have long, skinny arms like Grover? I get a shovel full of white, wet cement-like slush and push as hard as I can, only to realize I’m doing something resembling Michael Jackson’s moon-walk, where my feet are sliding, but it’s an illusion. I’m going nowhere. Hard as I try I show all the signs of a struggle, complete with temporary temper tantrums and vocal rumblings of profanity. Somewhere in a tree nearby, a Chickadee mocks me.
That’s when I get the bright idea to push the shovel with my brute force (ha), arms in close to my chest, handle pushed firmly against my rib cage and just give’er. It works. Well, until I hit a patch of uneven ice, the shovel kicks back like a rifle, knocks me backwards on my triple layered backside, gasping for air and looking around to see if any of my neighbours witnessed my humiliation. They all have snow blowers. I should be nicer to them. I should get up.
Lying there I ponder, what would Santa Claus do? I begin to fantasize about Santa sending me an elf, a magical creature with a shovel in his hand, sent to lessen my snow-removal burden. This elf works with ease, lifting the heavy snow, barely breaking a sweat, with his large elf ears sticking out from under his pointed hat, and rippling muscles flexing under his leather elf suit, all aglow with bronze-tanned skin and a smile of gleaming white teeth.
Just as I am about to predict his accent would be Spanish and he’d ask me what I take in my hot chocolate, I hear these words: “Mom. Look out, here comes the snow plough.”
And there goes that. Ah, winter.