Under the Snow


The snow was above my knees and my gloved fingers made the tape measure hard to operate. I had managed to wade into my front yard with much effort. I extended the tape measure and thrust it down through the snow. It read 22 inches. Who would have ever thought that an adventure as wonderful as two feet of snow would ever come to Mitchell?

I love snow. I love driving in it. I love playing in it. I love it because I have a two-year-old son who pronounces it ‘schnooow’ with lips rounded in excitement. It was Collin’s rounded lips that I was looking at, pressed against the inside of the storm door, when I remembered the snow shovel was in the shed in the backyard.

I also remembered seeing the shed doors earlier from the window, drifted closed over half way up. There was nothing for it but to grab the kitchen broom and start the adventure. I high stepped through the snow around the house and into the back, reaching the shed without much effort.

If you’ve ever tried to dig through three feet of snow with a kitchen broom, you’ll understand why my adventure was quickly turning into an ordeal. If you’re a person who hasn’t tried this, I would recommend instead sitting in a bathtub of ice and repeatedly hitting yourself in the forehead with your kitchen broom while saying “stupid is as stupid does” over and over. This will give you roughly the same amount of pleasure and save you the walk in the snow.

I managed to break through the snow and retrieve the shovel. My trek back was going well; shovel in one hand, trusty kitchen broom in the other. As I rounded the corner, I could see Michelle standing at the door and then I stepped on something. Something buried under two feet of snow. Something that shifted. Something that turned my view of the door into a view of blue sky as I toppled backwards. Something that I shall find when the snow melts and destroy.

I lay on my back after the fall with walls of snow surrounding me. I couldn’t see anything but snow. It was difficult to move. I had compacted several inches of snow beneath me when I fell so I was probably still six inches above the ground. When I made an attempt to use my hands to get up, they pressed through the compacted snow to the ground, which left them too low under me to provide leverage to lift myself.

Now, if you know me, you know I’m not a dainty person. You also would know that by now I’ve made quit a hole in the snow trying to get up. And, if you know my wife, you know that she has disappeared from the door at this point; not to fetch her boots to help but to get the camera. I crawled, she photographed.

Mind you, I have yet to throw the first shovel full of snow and I already want to tell Bing Crosby what I think of his White Christmas. Winter Wonderland was far from how I would describe this forsaken, bleak-midwinter landscape where who-knows-what lays hidden beneath the snow. I was shoveling now and about to find out what lay hidden.

I had been at it almost two hours, was still not halfway from my garage to the road and had begun asking the good Lord above what my sin was that had brought this about when I heard a small engine running. I looked up to see my good neighbor, Ray Simon, pushing his snow blower in my direction. The blower ate through the snow and Mr. Simon followed it into the driveway. Just as I was feeling renewed to my task, ready to shovel along side the blower with fervor, Mr. Simon sent me inside. I initially resisted leaving him to do my work but he said he would feel much better about doing my work if he knew I was indoors playing with my son.

You sometimes find hidden treasures buried; waiting to be found. People bring their snow blowers to help when you didn’t even know they had snow blowers. Unexpected help is the best kind of help. And you can only get it when troubles are deep; at least knee high.

My friend, Mike Mathews, called to say we should go shovel the walks at our church buildings. We picked up Tom Sowders on our way and found Junior Slaughter already clearing our lots. Nathan Slaughter joined in for what was now happy shoveling among good friends.

Another friend, Jay Eubanks, called my cell phone to say he was driving along, saw an older lady trying to clear her drive, and he needed someone to bring him gloves and a shovel. So Jay picked up our friend, Matthew Canada, and they shoveled the lady’s drive. I never heard them say that ladies name. And knowing my friends, they never even asked her name. Names don’t matter much when snow is deep.

I stood in my cleared drive way later in the day thinking how lucky I am to live in a place like Mitchell with friends and neighbors who will brave the elements just to keep you going. How is your adventure going? Are you digging people out? Are you keeping your eyes open for people stranded with no hope of moving forward unless you help? I wonder what people find under the snow when I’m around and I hope you wonder the same.

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