The report is in...

Well, the report is in - this time from my neighbor, Gene, who ought to know - and we got 18 inches of snow last night.  It is a freakin' winter, wonderland out there - and I ought to know! For the last hour, the two neighbors have been going at it with shovels and snow blowers. Mine is a weeny one purchased on the cheap after arriving in North Country from Arizona. Hell, what did I know from snow-blowers, right?  His is "the Beast" - something that requires a jumpsuit to operator and has all types of hand gears and attachments.  To say that after almost 5 years I have snow-blower envy would be... um all too true.  (And something I may have to deal with as this winter unfolds!)

We agreed, however, that we're going to split the cost of someone plowing our all too steep drive way for the rest of the winter.  And that made me think of this poem by Billy Collins called, "Shovelling Snow with the Buddha."  (BTW the roads are clear here - our people are professionals when it comes to winter - and while my organist is snow bound up on the mountain, worship will go ON no matter what Mr. Collins might think!  Pictures are from this morning...)

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.


Philomena Ewing said…
Crikey !! That's a lot of snow to be falling so early in the season. Snow always looks better in photographs than it does when you have to drive through it - in the UK we never seem prepared for it. Everything grinds to a halt.
Hope you keep warm and connected ! Great choice of music.
RJ said…
This is the most snow this early in decades... the last BIG one was 1987, October 4th, but this total beats that. Incredible. Next week it will be in the high 40s F and lots of melting. It is beautiful and serene and our road crews are well seasoned (thanks be to God!) All in all, a lovely day. Great to hear from you, my friend.

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