December 5, 2007
The Gift of Shoveling --- and Petaluma Afternoon
My least favorite time is here -- shoveling season. It's probably clear that I'm not a native Minnesotan, because I have never "embraced the winter," as Eric Friesen (from MPR years ago) advised. As I was grumbling about shoveling my driveway on Sunday after the city plow had pushed a foot of hard gunk into the mouth of the drive, I thought about what my good friend Jean told me last year at this time: "You have been given the gift of shoveling." There's a lot of wisdom in that sentence. I think I commented on it last year too.
Re-framing is an important skill to have at this time of year, and I appreciate this particular one. Yes - it is a gift and a privilege to be able to shovel. The man across the street had a leg amputated last summer because of diabetes. He no longer has that gift.
I am reminded of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, "The Dust of Snow". I discovered it when I was in the Navy, wanting desperately to be somewhere else.
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
I had that experience in the car on the way to teach this morning. (It was 12 degrees BTW.) On the radio, they were singing a song about "Petaluma afternoon." It was evoking a fine summer day in northern California. One of the verses said "Breezes blowin' ... Serotonin flowin'..." I had to smile!!
So now when I am grumpy about shoveling, I have my choice of thinking about my gift -- or about a Petaluma afternoon. It's nice to have options.