Ode to the Shovel

2015-01-29 16.49.38

O shovel, with yellow blade and curved handle for sparing my unspared back. It glides my driveway like a typewriter, old technology, back and forth.

Like vacuuming, which my mom once told me organizes your brain. So I welcome repetition—lean, push, walk, lift, lean, push. By spring, my thoughts will be color-coded and alphabetical, sitting neatly on dust-free shelves.

Like pulling a paddle through a lake. Canoeing Minnesota’s Boundary Waters for our honeymoon, I notched my paddle each day until twenty-eight tallies gouged the pale wood. On this first, honeymoon winter at the farm, I feel the urge to mark my shovel. To etch its plastic each day, or maybe cover it with decals, like a well-traveled guitar case.

This work, I realize, is for our cars, which I envy as I brush thick snow from their windows and headlights, then clear a path before them. Such service we provide them.

Shoveling in tandem, we stay close enough to talk, but mostly don’t talk. Work towards each other, then one of us moves a dozen paces upslope and starts fresh. He doesn’t rush, conserving energy with efficient form. His shoulders square, he pushes and hoists snow calmly onto growing piles. I hunch my shoulders, two hands gripping, bulldozing. My feet hustle. I barely contain exuberance. In work, we each echo our own parents.

O shovel, light enough for kids to help. It meanders ahead of Sam, carving a path all over, up and down, looping the car six times. Stella places one mitten on the handle, walks with me. At the driveway’s edge, she screws up her face and grunts her hand into the air, assisting my lift and toss.

Heavy snow makes me feel both real and charmed. Dormant muscles awaken to the snow’s relentless coming, to its sparkling weight. So much devotion to moving piles of water out of our way. I imagine the garden this summer and how much we might plant when I swap this shovel for another, dig soil, and turn all this shoveling energy into food.

2015-01-29 16.50.432015-02-01 23.44.04

3 thoughts on “Ode to the Shovel”

Comments are closed.