Kathleen Parker, our side's version of Maureen Dowd, has an editorial today which is really an Ode to Man and His Snow-shovel. It's a puffy little piece (as is this) , but it has at its core an essential truth--the act of shoveling snow is simply different than any other activity.
Ms. Parker grants that there are women who shovel snow, and I'm sure that they exist in nature--but I have never seen one. In fact, the sight of a woman shoveling snow is likely as rare as the sight of me doing ANY OTHER kind of manual labor....as wags elsewhere in this blog and my darling Kitten will attest.
But shoveling snow is DIFFERENT. The only activity with which I am familiar that comes EVEN CLOSE is cutting the grass--again, a primarily male pursuit. On days like today in which the snow is coming down steadily, almost my first thought of the day is "I need to shovel." It's biological, really, some kind of pre-programmed impulse to separate one's hearth and home from the wilds of field and forest. Clearing the walk, salting the steps, re-establishing a drive-way--these are the acts of a man defiantly standing up to nature saying "here I will make my stand--here on my (Kitten's) land!".
We have a fellow who cuts our grass and does other work around the farm. He's a shared treasure who works for at least one other homeowner on our little peninsula. Lew (not his name) does a ton of things for us, almost none of which I'd rather do myself--except cutting grass (I don't allow him to shovel snow--I have my pride). Lew owns a business with one of those way cool riding mowers you sit on with the two handles that move independently, cutting grass sort of the way those autonomous pool cleaners might move. When I drive up to the farm after a day of doing whatever it is I do over in DC and see him sitting atop his wondrous machine, finely manicuring our lawn in neat, repeatable patterns, I am envious. There--I think--is a man who can see the product of his labor. Instantly. He doesn't have to wait until the next Senate Defense Appropriations Bill to see if his "add" has appeared. He doesn't spend his time wondering whether the client was satisfied that the latest scribbling he's done "captures" the message he was seeking. No. He is instantly gratified. This is the beauty of cutting grass--and if our lawn weren't so big (and if I had one of those cool machines), I would displace him.
This is I suppose, also the beauty of shoveling snow. Its rewards are instantaneous. There are few feelings in nature as glorious as the sight of the red brick walkway revealed beneath a blanket of two feet of winter. Hard work you ask? Shoveling snow is an amazing calorie burner--and a fine barometer of one's overall fitness. How do I know? Well, I'm still sore from shoveling on Sunday.
As I write, we are assaulted by yet another instance of the ravages of global warming, and I find my thoughts turning from this blog and its attractions to the quiet order of the snow-shovel and the walkway. There, I will not be displaced.