The late winter storm that roared through New Jersey over the weekend dumped some 6 inches of snow on us and I was out shoveling the sidewalk yesterday. It was windy but not cold and I found myself enjoying the activity,getting into a rhythm . As I shoveled , I noticed that one of my neighbors had shoveled a narrow path rather than the entire width of his sidewalk and I started thinking of my former neighbor Eddie….
This was about twenty years ago and I was living at a different house then , about a mile away from our current one. I was shoveling the sidewalk , doing the minimum possible , and making heavy weather of it when an old car putt-putted to a stop near me. It was my neighbor Eddie, a retired trucker, who lived down the street. We exchanged Good Mornings as he got out of the car and walked over to me. ” You’re doing it all wrong ,” he said , as he took the shovel out of my hands and proceeded to show me how to do it right. How to push the snow to the side , rather than lift and toss. ” You might as well do a proper job. It ain’t that much more work and you’ll feel good afterwards.” he said as he showed me the most efficient way to do the entire width of the sidewalk. Then he stayed and chatted as I followed his instructions and completed the job.” There. Doesn’t that look good ?And don’t you feel good about it ? ” Eddie asked . Looking at the newly cleared sidewalk and my neighbor’s sloppy efforts, I had to agree. Eddie has long since gone to his reward but ,ever since , I’ve done it the way he taught me.
Just then , the municipal snow plow went by , clearing the roadway and it started me thinking about the effort it takes to keep the road plowed. Even in a medium sized township such as Edison, there must be scores , if not hundreds, of miles to be plowed. When you figure that the plows have to make at least two passes for each stretch of road that they clear, the effort necessary is more than twice as much. ” How many plows do they have ?’ I wondered. What must it be like in other parts of the country like Minnesota and North Dakota where the snowfall is much heavier and dwellings more spread-out ? How do they keep the roads cleared ?
That led me to think about an e-mail friend, Helen , who lives in North Carolina. She is an older lady , close to 80, who lives alone. She had been worried about the storm because , in the aftermath, the roads become very slippery and treacherous. Not infrequently, the electricity goes off and doesn’t return for several hours… unpleasant and scary , if you are elderly and living alone. The power does occasionally go out here in this part of Jersey but it is restored almost immediately. Only once in all these years do I recall a power outage lasting more than a few minutes.When I think about the hurricanes in Florida , the searing heat of Texas, the earthquakes in California , the heavy snowfalls in Boston and the Northeast, New Jersey isn’t all that bad … yessir, give me Jersey any day.
Caught up in these ruminations, I suddenly realized that I had finished shoveling the sidewalk. I looked back at the broad path I’d cleared and , as Eddie had predicted, I felt good, really good. Thank you, Eddie.