Shovel and Broom

While clearing the porch of today’s endless torrent of snow I thought about that long William Gass story, “The Pedersen Kid.”  I wish I remembered the story better but what I recall is the story of a kid getting lost outside in a snowstorm.  The story takes a surreal turn, like an impressionist painting, maybe the kid survives, maybe he doesn’t, maybe what starts to flow from the story is the kid lost in the snow somewhere telling himself he’s alright, he’s found shelter.  Gass at the height of his artistry.

My wife was outside before I was this morning, and I said to her, to myself, “You’re making me look bad.”  My body is always cranky and stiff in the morning, I usually have a hard time putting on my pants.  I found a way into them, a pair of lined snow-appropriate pants that I fortuitously requisitioned from The Internet six weeks ago, not knowing this snow would fall, but wanting to be warm at Farm, snow or no.  

I like to use brooms to clear snow, if possible.  I dislike the scrape a snow shovel makes against a sidewalk.  I did use a snow shovel at times today, to lift the sweepings up and away, to cut into banks, to eliminate piles in nature’s sudden corners.  Even as I used it I could hear the labrador two houses down roused by the scrape, barking somewhere between plaintive and peevish.  I know, I said to the dog, I knowI don’t like the sound of this shovel either.

I moved most of the snow with a push broom, silent, silent.  Sweep, sweep, push.  The snow kept falling, and keeps on raining down from some endless machine in the frozen sky.  It was one of those tasks, like painting the outside of a very large dream-house.  By the time you get to the end.  Just when you think you’re done you look upon your work (ye mighty) and you know you have to start again.