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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snow Business, Scene 2

     “You hold the shovel like this so that the snow does not come right off the back of the shovel.” My father was demonstrating the position he found to be best for snow removal on our corner lot sidewalks. I had asked to help him one Saturday morning after an early snowfall but had been frustrated when all the snow I scooped onto my shovel just came out the other end. The problem was that my eagerness to help him had preceded my growth. I was just too short to hold the shovel at the suggested angle and still be hanging on to the handle. No, they did not make smaller shovels; I would just have to wait until I grew a bit more. About then, my mother called to my father and he set down the shovel. As I watched him walk over to the house, I picked up the shovel. I held the handle in my two hands and tried to accomplish the right angle to move the snow properly. It was just too steep an angle—unless—I moved my hands to the shaft of the shovel until I could grasp it at just the right angle. Yes, that would work if only I could move the shovel with my hands in that position. Pushing the snow off the walk and onto the grass worked easily in the new hold. Lifting the snow-laden shovel to throw the snow somewhere else proved a bit more challenging but it could be done.
     I was not as fast as my father at clearing the sidewalks but I soon learned to do the job well enough that he didn’t mind just letting me get a head start if it finished snowing before he got home from work. I really enjoyed watching the progress of my labors as the thick white covering was cleared to reveal the familiar, non-slippery cement walkway. When I had finished my work I would often take a walk around our block to see who else had shoveled their sidewalks already. I loved being the first one on the block to finish the job!
     “Mom, why doesn’t Mrs. Story ever have her sidewalks cleaned off in the winter? It is dangerous for her because she must be, at least, fifty, I would think. She could fall and really hurt herself. Doesn’t she have a son who could do it for her?” Mrs. Story’s home was on the diagonally opposite corner lot of our own block and she really did have a lot of sidewalk to shovel. She was an elderly woman much older than fifty but this sounded like a number that bordered the edge of life and eternity to me.
     “I think that she does have a son but I am not sure he lives in town.”
     “Would you mind if I took our shovel and cleared off her sidewalks for her?” It was too late to do it that day but Mom agreed I could go to Mrs. Story’s house the next day.
     As I made my way over to Mrs. Story’s house, I noticed a small snow-covered patch of sidewalk I would need to cross and decided to just shovel it clear. The thing is, when I had finished I was torn between just continuing on my way to Mrs. Story’s and shoveling the sidewalk that went from Mrs. Griffin’s front door to the curb. Should I do that, too; or, would I not have enough time left to shovel all of the sidewalks at Mrs. Story’s? I decided that I had better do the job my mother was expecting me to do first. If I still had time on the way home, I would stop and shovel the rest of Mrs. Griffin’s walk.
     I worked hard to get the entire sidewalk near the curbs on Mrs. Story’s corner lot clear and then headed for the sidewalk that went from her front steps to the curb. Quietly I began to move the snow off the top step so as not to disturb the old lady should she be taking a nap or resting. Suddenly, the front door swung open and I froze with fright. It was at that very moment that a warning flash zinged across my thoughts, you never asked permission to be on her property, you know. She could call the cops on you!
     “Oh my, little girl. You must be half frozen. Come in and have a cup of tea.” I told Mrs. Story that I was actually pretty warm from the shoveling and I needed to finish because my mother would be wondering where I was. Thanks for the offer but, if she did not mind, I would just finish my job.
     “Oh, dear child. I don’t mind at all. I am so grateful to you. You don’t need to completely clear the walk here, though; just make a path so I can walk out to the curb. Thank you so much for thinking of me. No one has ever done this in all the years I have lived here.” I explained that I had just learned to shovel snow a few weeks before but I would help her with the snow when I could. It made me feel so good to see how happy she was to have the snow gone. I was pushing the last shovel load of snow away from the sidewalk when Mrs. Story appeared on the top step, waving to me. Oh boy, I thought, I hope she hasn’t changed her mind and she wants me to take that other side of snow off this walk, too. I am about ready to drop.
     “Here, little girl. Take this.” I took off my mitten and watched as she put a shiny new quarter into my little hand. Wow, this was a first for me. I had never before earned money for any work I had done outside of our home. This was my very first job ever. There is just no way to describe how terrific I felt. I fairly floated my weary body on home, snow shovel slung over my shoulder and a smile frozen to my face.
     I would soon learn my first real Bible lesson in the world of commerce.

*The names are not the real names simply because I have not a clue what they were!

****Snow Business, Scene 3… Coming Tomorrow

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