The Zen of shovelling snow

We have a monstrous driveway. It is long and steep. So when it snows, I feel a few seconds of wonder at the beautiful whiteness, then a seeping plunge of dread at the prospect of shoveling the driveway.

It’s exercise, I tell myself. And fresh air

Oh yeah? Well, walking along a tropical sandy beach is also exercise and fresh air…

I bundle myself up in several layers then open the garage door. Shovel in hand, I stare at the expanse of the work ahead of me. 

Then I take a breath. 

And I realize how calm and quiet everything is. The only sound is the twittering of birds in the trees. I look up and there are some plump little chickadees, the brilliant red of a cardinal. “Hello!” I call up to them. The neighbours probably think I’m crazy. 

The birds chirp away. Maybe they’re laughing at me. But regardless, it sounds nice.

I begin. The snow is deep and heavy. This will take a while. My shovel acts as a mini snow plow, back and forth, back and forth across the driveway. Shaving off a bit at a time. Instead of looking at what lies ahead, I look behind to see what I’ve done. And the bare, snow-free space gets bigger and bigger, slowly, slowly.

The neighbours have not started up their snowblowers yet so the world is quiet and calm. There is always such a big, atmospheric sigh after a blizzard.

The kids are inside finishing breakfast. I have quiet right now. The shoveling takes minimal cognitive effort so I devote my mind to other things: Christmas shopping strategy, work-related tasks, and blog posts. But then I shush my mind and listen to the birds again. And I let the quiet infuse the inside of me, too. It is energizing, uplifting.

Although a tropical, sandy beach would be nice, I’ve got peace and calm right here, right now.

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