Friday, February 21, 2014
What Your Neighbor is Trying to Tell You
In dark twilight six am, five year old Daniel knocks on our door, and it's my turn to get up with him. We lumber sleepy-eyed out to the couch, dodging Legos, to curl up in silence. Heavy snow drags branches heavy, and we marvel that they haven't snapped. Tree branch fingertips trail the tops of deep snowbanks against the fence, and the wind blows hard. Sculpted snow whips eroded silver dust into the air, as orange flashing snow-plows roar down dark side streets. Half a moon hangs dimly in the sky.
Sunshine soon dries a foggy twilight, and yellows and blues highlight snowy trees. After lunch, my husband and I pull on black snowpants, red stocking caps, and wind up in long scarves. While he tackles thigh-high snowdrifts in the driveway, Daniel and I laugh and fall through hip-high snow, sinking trapped into white quicksand. Laughter echoes off yellow houses as we tumble and fall.
"Mom!" he yells, panicked. "Help, get me." Hip-high snow for me is chin-high on him, and he is sensing his peril. I crouch down, pulling him onto my back, and we hike monkey-style through a white backyard.
Arriving winded in the front of the house, I deposit Daniel to safety and join my man, who is shoveling up front. He stops heaving snow to draw my attention to something.
"Look, see the sides of the driveway? Someone snow-blowed our driveway. See?" Tall angled edges outline our driveway, trace around our cars, and weave a path to our garage, hints of a straight-edged snowblower.
Humbled, amazed, and delightfully touched, we are hit with the realization of how much work they did, and how much work they saved us. Even the end of our driveway had been freed from the city snowplows who normally throw up giant walls of snow, blocking us in. Wow.
We smile and look over at their yard, wanting to thank them. With no one in sight, we pull our caps down lower against the stinging wind, and jab our shovels into remaining thigh-high piles of snow. Galing winds throw the snow back into our faces, sculpting drifts anew beside us, and wicking away shiny sweat and melted snow from our faces. Bending low, we dig and throw snow, dig and throw, bodies aching quickly.
An hour later, in the warmth of the house, I pack up fresh chocolate chip cookies into a plastic bag, write out a note of thanks for their gift of Vietnamese egg rolls earlier and for the snow-blowing gift, using cut and paste from an online translating program to put my words into Vietnamese.
Friendship and community can be spoken through smiles, egg rolls, hand gestures, sweet milky cardamom tea, chocolate chip cookies, and snow-blowing surprises.