Lines written in late winter …
Call them musings in the snow.
A poet I am not and never will be — and sure, I’d prefer to be writing in “early spring” or “above Tintern Abbey,” as the inimitable William Wordsworth had the good fortune to do — but I am not. Alas, I must peck away in the deadest turn of winter, in a place where the furnace and the water heater are on the fritz simultaneously, lucky me.
And yet I am quite at peace.
For that, in part, I must publicly shout-out some good, nay great, neighbors.
Not only are they just all-around good people, but they own snow throwers and aren’t afraid to use them.
Are you one of those people who wants to live away from it all, miles out in the woods, with nothing around but the call of the loons or the wild? Good for you, Jack London.
Personally, I think you’ve lost your mind.
On the plus side, you could be one of those people who never has to buy curtains, let alone hang them or launder them or live to grow tired of looking at them, and you can be quite trendy, as window-coverings continue to curry lessening favor in the fishbowl world we inhabit.
But on the minus side, you probably have a lot of land, don’t you? Which means lots of grass to cut and snow to throw, and, hey, you can keep both.
I used to feel sorry for the snow-thrower crowd. They invest a decent chunk of change into these storage-space-sucking machines that often have minds of their own, and, seriously, how often do they get to use them? I suppose I’m remembering more than one fairly recent winter that had us Christmas shopping in short sleeves or marveling at snow for Halloween but begging for at least a small dose of the stuff come January or February. Just so we could, you know, feel like real Northeasterners.
Not this year, baby. And not last year either. This year, Mr. Polar Vortex has shown us who’s boss, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been schooled. And put on notice for the future.
But back to the neighbors. Mine have made it too easy on me. And all I’ve really done so far in return is offer some Christmas beer and vow to look out for them if ever the opportunity arises. (Unfortunately, I’m sometimes a bit oblivious to the things that require such looking-out. It’s also been my neighbors who’ve pointed out to me certain things that might require attention. Them: “Did you know your ridge vent is about to come down off the top of your house?” Me: Um, no … What’s a ridge vent?)
Tell me again why some people don’t want anyone next-door to them?
A friend once arrived at my house 15 minutes early to help me install a porch light fixture. (Let’s just say I try really, really hard to be on time, but early is not my thing.) Hence, he had to wait outside in his truck for me for 15 — or OK, maybe 18 — minutes. No fewer than three people, he said, asked him if they could help him with something.
At least you have good neighbors, he said. They look out for you.
Yeah, they do. Wouldn’t trade them for the world. No one’s going to lurk around my castle without my knowledge.
And, if they do, they’ll probably be up to something good. Say secret snow-throwing. I often come home late, on snow-days-turned-snow-nights, to gloriously clean walks.
Sure, if I tried hard, I could probably open my kitchen window and throw a penny square on to my neighbors’ kitchen table, which means if we both opened our windows, or our window-coverings, we could really keep tabs on each other at all times.
But that’s fine by me. Never forget the upside: We can really keep tabs on each other at all times.