Saturday, December 04, 2010

Gentlemen, start your engines

I love the way that a deep snowfall muffles the city, packs it in, the clammering sounds softened by a layer of down and fluff. In the morning, feeling like you've fallen asleep in a snowbank, you hear nothing but the clear music of a morning cardinal, calling out with the sweetness of a young soloist in the metro boys' choir.

Well, that, and the roar of the neighboring snowblowers. Gentlemen, start your engines.

The back alley snowplow comes out earlier than anyone else. Snow = jobs = money. That guy is the first to scrape away the white stuff. Then, you'll hear my husband. And you'll, like me, be grateful for his brawn and his old-school ways. He shovels and scrapes by hand, stopping once in a while to look out over the lawns and streets. It's an easy rhythm. You lull back to sleep. And then the rich neighbor, the one who leaves for work every Saturday before nine, tries to start up his small snowblower. It usually takes him five or six tries. He lives on the corner and he's got a lot to blow. (He's from Wayzata but you'd think he moved in from the Carolinas the way he bumbles with that machine.) So you're back awake again. Then the guy across the back alley revs up his big monster. He's got two big lanes of driveways, suburban in breadth and depth, and while he's fast, he's loud.

Might as well get up and make some tea.

Ken is at the table, ruddy-cheeked, eating pan-made oatmeal and sourdough toast. He's got hat hair. His reading glasses were $14.99 at Walgreen's. He's got them on so he can read the local Highland weekly. He recognizes one of Tim's baseball coaches in the editorials. The guy wrote in to support the college's plans to expand their tennis courts. The other letters decry the expansion.

Tim comes home from an overnight. He had trouble driving home in the snow so he put his truck in low, 4-wheel drive, and backed up and flipped it into forward a few times to gain some momentum. He's wearing one of Ken's old roofing pullovers--and it fits. His cheeks are red, too.

Ken says, "We better go to George's to get your skates sharpened." Tim has a game today at one. Tim says, "I don't want to go back out." Ken says, "Then it looks like you won't get your skates sharpened." They start up the truck again and head out together. I know they're going by Bruegger's Bagels so I ask for a morning sandwich.

And so the house is quiet again. The sidewalks are scraped, the alleys are plowed. The men in the house are out. Our cottage is surrounded by snow. Even the birdhouse roof is loaded with three inches of white.

My ears are perked. I wait for the soloist to call out again.


julie said...

I love this. Thank you.

juliloquy said...

Love this snapshot of a morning/your family/your neighborhood. Wish I could have been there to share the tea!