Inside ski gloves and a woollen liner, my hands clamped around the shovel with decreasing feeling. Lean, scoop, lift, toss. I was clearing the driveway in case the roads got cleared in case we wanted to drive somewhere which we couldn’t. It seemed like the thing to do.
The neighborhood had turned into a sculpture of every size of mound, the snow, light and fluffy in the cold, turned the railings alongside the steps up to the the Donnellys’ house into thick, long lumps. Our car was a round, curved heap that looked like a kiva or a beehive. The street was framed by a low, clumsy fence where the snowplow had made a pass early in the storm, left a riffle of snow where more piled on, and more, and more.
I wasn’t making much progress. I had nowhere to dump the snow once I got it on the shovel, except in the street where I would have to drive over it. Ordinary life was stopped. No school, no traffic, no work. I stood up, stuck the shovel into the heap I’d made and gave in to the day.
The sun was out, the landscape glowing brilliant white, the air brisk and bracing and exhilarating. It hurt to bring the air through my nostrils. I retied my fluffy, blue scarf around my neck, ran up the front steps and opened the door to the house. It took half an hour of unlacing boots, stamping snow off my snow pants, rousting out the girls, hunting down the cross-country skis, relacing us all into our gear. But finally, breakfast finished, dishes thrown into the sink, we set out on our skis down the magic, silent street, lined with trees plumed and enveloped in white, past Betty’s, then the new neighbors across the street, our skis making a soft whoosh in the powdery snow that had not one drop of melting anywhere, not one little rivulet or rush of water emerging from the great, smooth surface of the blizzard’s layered snow, because, although we were warm inside our clothes from the exercise, our breaths floating past our cheeks, the town of Beverly, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the whole world, was frozen.