Thursday, February 05, 2015

Snow in the City

Of Snowflakes and Perfect Lawns

“Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together." (author unknown)

The sun was just rising as I finished putting the final touches on my attempt to clean our front sidewalk of snow one morning earlier this week.  It was rather whitish stuff that had turned into a mushy muddled mess under the incessant trampling of many footsteps into a greyish cover over the concrete that is our front sidewalk.

As I laid down a layer of salt I thought back to my youth in southern Wisconsin.  My thoughts were not of the wintry whiteness  that we enjoyed but of summertime and the feelings of futility and, perhaps, a bit of resentment over the perfect lawn of our neighbors across the street.  They had a well-maintained bungalow and a small front lawn that was always kept in pristine, if not perfect, order.  While I struggled with our much larger lawn that stretched over the equivalent of at  least three city lots my neighbor's yard was always laying there, in its crisp, pristine, weed-free form, mocking all my feeble attempts to keep our lawn under control.  Forget about eliminating weeds -- as long as the ground was covered with green it did not matter what the source of that greenery was.  Did I mention that my neighbor was retired?  Thus he had most every day available to touch-up his lawn and make sure it was just right.  So, the battle was lost before it had begun and the perfect image of that lawn has grown in my mind into a memory that augments the lingering disgust I have for even the idea of mowing and trimming a lawn. 

Call me a Jeremiah for my memory of that time is surely Pirandellian and the feelings of futility were merely chimerical.  But, here I am in the seventh decade of my life making sure that the sidewalk in front of the six-flat in which I live is perfectly clear of snow (at least when the snowfall is somewhat less than the almost two feet we had yesterday).  What will the neighbors think?


Brian Joseph said...

I too tend to think about all the seasons and how they affected my life when it first snows. Perhaps this is because a heavy snow seems to remind me just how easily nature can effect my familiar environments.

Be it green lawns or snowy sidewalks our attempts to tame nature seem to be continuous and perhaps futile.

James said...


Thanks for your response to my reverie. Perhaps the futility of our attempts to tame nature are part of what it takes to be human, and live beside our fellow men and women.