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Shovelling Snow In Sweden Tags: Snow Days

Snow days should be a perfect time to write, with nothing much to do and few diversions, but things happen. Seems like all I want to do is sleep.

Tuesday:

Had a cold these last 2 weeks, now starting on my third. The weather is not good. It often isn’t here in Sweden—lots of rain, and snow, and shovelling. 80 years old, with a cold I can’t seem to shake. I feel like shit, and I’m shovelling snow twice a day. Wife also shovels, but she’s Swedish. Shovelling snow comes natural to them. It’s in their DNA.

I thought I would be writing, but spend more time peering through windows. Has it stopped? Yes, for the moment. More is promised later on tonight. I was born in Illinois, but got out as soon as I could. I still remember local winter news (we had newspapers back then) about men having heart attacks, while shovelling snow. There were a few deaths every year. I’ve got a good heart, I think. Just sayin’.

I am not used to shovelling. I’ve spent almost all my years in San Francisco, and Seattle. It snows in Seattle, but seldom—and there was nothing to shovel where we lived. We did not own a snow shovel. I didn’t know what a show shovel looked like. Now we have two very serious ones. They are curved scoops, thirty inches wide, and can pick up a lot of snow in a hurry. You can slide the thing along in front of you, but snow gets heavy. Wife insists we shovel our double driveway when snow it less than an inch deep. This makes for a lot of shovelling but is probably a good idea—like I said, she’s Swedish. They know snow, the Swedes.

I’m thinking it’s a primal part of Swedish DNA,  genetic fear of being snowed in, trapped, and starving to death. I’m sure it happened in the old days. The American way, in my opinion, would be to stock up, booze and food, and wait it out. A day or two, no problem. Phones and the TV work. A perfect time to write, an introvert’s delight, but my creative drive’s gone bear-like. All I want to do is sleep, to hibernate. This wish as yet unrealized, but with good reason. Wife has clients coming to the house. The Swedes have not yet learned the art of suing one another, but an accident would be an ugly thing, if someone slipped and hurt themselves. Salt doesn’t work; it just lays there and looks at me. We had a chance to buy a departing neighbour’s snow blower this summer, but it was a big, clumsy looking thing and it seemed silly for just a double driveway.

There were new arrival immigrants housed near here a year ago, and young men in our neighbourhood were glad to make some extra cash. We hired three to help us move a very heavy dresser into the house. They were delighted with the cash earned in less than an hour, and we with their help—a nice, friendly, experience. The motel where they were staying is empty now. They have moved on, but I keep thinking that there must be someone who would be happy pick up a hundred kronor cash for thirty minutes work. Maybe next year. In the meantime there is shovelling to be done.

Wednesday:

Still snowing. Three more inches fell last night, and non-stop all this day. I have begun to write with nose and head stopped up, but my creative juices flow. The subject—snow of course. Snow poems, the silence, whiteness, brightness, but the muse is interrupted by the need to scoop and move the stuff around. I wonder, how old do you have to be to get a free pass out of shovelling? Ninety ought to do it. Maybe less?  This getting up in years, the growing long of tooth, more food to feed the muse.

It’s interesting growing old. Full of surprises, unexpected, and defining moments of awareness. At a dinner party with wife’s family, after my arrival in here Sweden, there were several youngsters. A young mother started pointing to the diners at the table as she asked a child sitting on her lap, “Do you know who that is?” There were ten of us. The kid knew almost all our names, but when she came to me and asked, “Who’s that?” The child grinned with pleasure, knowing that he had the correct answer. “Old man,” he exclaimed without a second thought. My new found relatives cracked up, and I laughed too, but it was an epiphany—the first of many age related. These people saw me as an old man, and in truth I was the oldest at the table—but was still in my mid seventies. When did ‘old man’ happen? 

More of those moments came this snowbound week, while watching TV. I learned I was geriatric. When you turn eighty you are automatically classified as geriatric. Yuk. Sounds awful. There were several shows with older people who could barely move, or drive a car, or understand computers. People in their seventies. ‘She’s seventy five and driving a truck, all by herself—amazing.’ Still more bad news, eighty year olds dying all over the place—of course, they’ve always done that. That’s what people do. They die, sooner or later. If you make it to eighty you’re doing pretty good. A lot of us didn’t.

In the mean time typing’s easier than shovelling. Spring will come again, as always, and the words float out of nowhere to white pages spattered with black ink. Takes more than snot to stop a plot, and long term memory recalls a host of willing subjects.

Digger Odell was a character on an American radio show called, The Life of Riley, long ago-mid 1950’s. Digger was a mortician who always ended his exits with, “I’d better be, shovelling off.”

October Muse
Category: Site News
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