Last night I couldn't get to sleep. I had coffee during the day and whiskey before bed which made me groggy but wound up. I was thinking about my blog, my writing, my life in story form. The last few days I haven't written because the girls were home on snow days and I didn't have the space I needed to write. I was thinking though, about how to describe life in this southwestern mountain town. I felt like it was much easier to write about my world when I was living abroad. Here, I feel like I can't separate myself out so my writing seems more like just reporting. I want to be genuine but also somewhat transcendent of the mundane.
So, I was lying in bed thinking about how I could do this. I didn't really come up with a solution except that I should try as hard as I can to express the details and the feelings that go with the story.
This snow storm was quite a story. Apparently, it was the biggest dumping in 29 years. We do get deep snow every winter but this was fast and the winds were up to 60 mph. It sounded like the blizzard scene from Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. The power went out temporarily but came back on, thank God! I would not have wanted to feel the chill of cold walls, floors, and furniture and our meager wood pile is buried under a drift in the backyard. I suppose we could have dug it out and sat under blankets all day. But we would have had no tea! Anyway, we were able to stay warm inside.
It snowed heavily all day Monday and through the night. By Tuesday the skies were blue but it was about 20 degrees and the driveway and doors were covered in drifts. Snow had gotten embedded in the screens. Around 10 o'clock we started the big dig out. I made the girls go out first because I knew they would be restless by the middle of the day and I wanted them to get some fresh air and exercise. Also, I feel they need to share in the responsibilities especially when it seems there is more than even the four of us can handle. They whined and objected but finally went out and made a good shovel wide path down to the street.
Then David and I went out and started moving mountains of snow. One of the problems was the wind blowing it in our faces as we threw it. The other problem was that there was nowhere to throw it. Everywhere was at least waist deep. Everyone was outside with shovels and snow blowers. The plows had gone by on the main street and there were a few cars going by tentatively.
We were at it for about half an hour when this man came up with his snow blower. He plowed through the sidewalk and then started in on our berm. (When the city plows the streets, they push all the frozen, compacted snow to the side, blocking the ends of the driveways and creating a large, semi-solid embankment). He had a heavy-duty bright green and yellow machine. Any machine buffs will know that means a John Deer! (John Deer actually has a copy write on that color of green.)
I have to say I felt like it was a little bit of a super hero coming to rescue us and the man was a bit of a saint. He didn't have a beard, but it still seemed like proof of the spirit of Santa to me. It would have taken us all day to make a path just big enough for one car and we would have been sore and possibly injured for days following. Instead, he cleared the entire driveway with clean edges in about 20 minutes. I didn't even know who he was! I asked his name and where he lived so I could bring him some cookies later or some small token of appreciation. He was going on to help other people after he left us! It was cold out and plow or no plow, moving the snow was still work!
Was this a lesson in civic duty? No. Was it an example of kindness and caring? Maybe. Mostly, it struck me as an act of generosity. So often we encounter meanness, or we react to situations with a mean spirit. Especially in tough economic times, everyone is trying to figure out how to tighten their belts. Well, maybe the philosophy of openness is the right one - creating a positive flow, allowing the space for good things to happen. Personally, I am going to try to keep the chain reaction of generosity going. It could be a smile to someone who seems down, a kind word to my kids because I am not exhausted, a more positive attitude about where I live, or just saying yes to something I might have otherwise said no to.
The girls are back at school today and Christmas is coming up fast. I am really looking forward to this festive, happy time of year. I am thankful. I am feeling like it is good to be where I am right now. I feel like the story is unfolding and it's not too bad. The next chapter might be Europe, Seattle, or Japan, but this Arizona chapter has its own meaning and its own charm.