As hundreds of thousands of commuters across Chicagoland breathe a collective sigh of relief as we dig our way out of Friday afternoon’s “couldn’t-come-at-a-worse-time” blizzard, this dad woke up to a quite Saturday morning, grateful he wasn’t stuck in four-plus-hours of traffic yesterday, and determined to shovel his way out of the eight inches of snow topping his driveway.
I like early morning shoveling. I like the sound of nothing, muffled against the newly fallen snow.
But that sound of nothingness didn’t last to long as I quickly realized an echoing sound, mirroring my own shovel, as I made my way back-and-forth across my driveway.
It was my neighbor. Bundled up just like me.
Looking across the street at him-with a bit of envy- I realized that his task was almost complete. I also realized that, in spite of living in our current home a little over six months, that I never had met this particular guy.
Silly. Isn’t it?
So, I made a decision that as soon as I reached the end of my own driveway, I was going to walk across the street to say hello. Interestingly enough, he beat me to the punch.
“You’re the star of the neighborhood,” I teased him.
And then we just started talking. As if we had been neighbors for twenty years.
“I’m Jim, by the way,” I said.
“Boyd,” he replied. “Nice to meet you.”
Then Boyd started telling how he used to love snow days, as a little guy growing up in the suburbs of Chicago -which led me into my own scrapbook of memories growing up in Nebraska, and feeling the excitement of snow days as we received the news through our school’s telephone calling tree. I remember hot chocolate, the feeling of frozen toe tips, the frustration of snow that kept creeping up that space between my mittens and my coat, building snow forts and sledding down the ginormous hills of snow left on the side of the street by the plows.
I heard on the news that the last snow day for Chicago kids was twelve years ago. That’s an entire generation of our children who never had one, memorable snow day! I find that a little sad.
Call me old fashioned. But I think memories for kids, like snow days, are important. They are a reminder of the simple goodness in the world.
Like neighbors named Boyd. Who I’m glad I finally met.