As a child, I would do anything to get out of yard work. Time to rake leaves? Oops, sorry Dad, I forgot about the massive science project due tomorrow. Time to weed the garden? Sorry, Mom, I feel ill. As an adult, I found even better excuses. Sorry, honey, I just can’t seem to focus on “your patio repair project” right now. Perhaps I have a touch of ADD?

There’s one outdoor project, however, that I’ll eagerly volunteer for every time: shoveling. Partly, it’s the promise of a powder-filled day that makes shoveling fun. Partly, it’s the shock of cold air first thing in the morning. But most of all, I love the way shoveling makes me feel. After shoveling, I feel sexy and tough. Clear-headed and calm. I’m a better me.shoveling

While shoveling our short stretch of sidewalk and front walk, I chip away at all the things that are bugging me. As my blade strikes the ice so too does my resolve. I resolve to let the little things slide away like powder. And to give more attention to my writing, my teaching, and my family. I can’t rush those things. Just like I can’t rush over this patch of ice. They can be challenging and need a more patient and determined me.

After about twenty minutes of scooping snow and hacking ice, the walk is clear. I’ve unearthed the path that’s always been there. I return to the house, my sleeves pushed up, cheeks flushed, hair a little wild, and stomp snow off my Sorels. I feel like a mountain woman. I feel like I can do anything.

I was only outside for a brief time, but the house feels different to me. The cluster of junk accumulating by our front door no longer feels like a personal attack launched by my family; instead I disassemble it one hat and one sock at a time. And the writing project that looms over me, I decide, I will approach that much the same way: one line at a time.

“You’ve been out already?” Andy asks when he comes downstairs. He’s been helping the girls get ready and still holds the bottle of detangling spray in his hands as he looks outside. I love the expression on his face. One part admiration; one part shock that I’ve actually done some yard work.

“Yeah,” I say shaking the snow off my hat, “thought I’d get an early start.”

“Looks great,” he says, but his eyes look at me rather than the walk. “Where’d that ADD go?”

I kick off my boots and smile. “Funny thing,” I say, leaning in for a hug, “It seems to clear up every time it snows.”

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