With a mighty heave, I willed the shovel through a crunchy mix of snow and ice. The cold sharp scrape was a sound I hadn’t heard in twenty years. But, just like I remembered from so long ago, I heard an answer back from across the street, a scrape just like mine. How many times had I shoveled out this driveway in the cold early hours of frozen mornings, while my neighbor Frank across the street did the same? Too many to ponder. Two working men out in the snow. “Cold enough for you?” Frank called out, and I yelled back that it was nothing. “Supposed to get more tonight,” he said in his booming voice, Frank was a solid oak of a man in his red and black wool coat and hat with earflaps. Scrape, and I cleared another foot of ice, and scrape too from across the street. Frank was no stranger to hard work, a tireless and seemingly ageless man, forever in his sixties, the soul of responsibility and dependability. Year in, year out he kept that lot well-groomed in every season. He was always ready with a greeting, to talk about the weather, some conspiratorial moaning about the city plow. I banged my shovel on the ground to clean it, and I heard Frank do the same. “Bet you never thought you’d be back here, huh?” Frank bellowed. He was right, but I told him that as strange as it sounded, it felt good to be in the cold again. “Don’t you miss California?” he asked? California was making me soft, I lied. I didn’t know what else to tell him, but I smiled. Then I thought of something: You’re just happy you don’t have to do this any more, I told him. “That plow’ll be back here in half an hour, I bet,” he called back as if he didn’t hear me. I reminded him that the plow always gave twice as much to my side of the street as it did to his. “Oh, I don’t know about all that,” he said, and didn’t say any more. I just smiled, wondering what they’d need snowplows for up in Heaven. And, I heaved again. The cold sharp scrape again echoed off the barn across the street, Frank’s barn, sound moving easily through the icy air: Echoes of things I didn’t know I’d remember. I missed Frank.previous post: Me So Dang Hungry next post: Firetruck Outside of Poughkeepsie
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 14th, 2012 at 1:35 pm
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