Pierre and the Plow

We woke up to this again today:



Snow. Everywhere. Here.

Last night another eight inches fell on top of the five or six that had fallen two days ago. It’s beautiful, yes. I have photographic evidence of that, but the fact that it is 8pm and my whole family is ready for bed is also proof that dealing with all of this snow (and cold) is exhausting. For the body and the soul.

Usually after it snows Ray, Noah and I shovel out our rather long driveway ourselves. (The dog comes outside, too, but he mostly chases squirrels.) We say that it’s good exercise. We tell ourselves that we don’t need to pay someone else to do a job that the three healthy human beings that live in this house can do on their own. Mostly we shovel the snow ourselves because we’re cheap. And, growing up, Ray and I had fathers who made us shovel, so we’re determined to pass on this laborious custom to Noah, too.

Noah pretty much hates it. He huffs and he puffs and complains that none of his other friends have to shovel. The dog barks and whines at the scraping sounds the shovels make and tries to steal our gloves in opposition. Ray is very particular about how clear the pavement gets and becomes a bit of a taskmaster out there…we’re not allowed to walk on any of the snow that covers the pavement, we have to sweep the remnants off of the porch before sprinkling a measured amount of pet-friendly ice melt (evenly) on the steps. Often we end up bickering, especially after our feet are soaked and our arms are sore and we still have 2/3 of the driveway left to go.

After almost an hour of grunting and growling out there today we decided to raise the white flag. We had all had enough. It’s the eighth snow storm of the season and we had just done this drill less than 48 hours earlier. But…who to call? In upstate New York people put their plow people on retainer in July. And the plow people have predetermined routes. And nobody with a plow is going to answer a cell phone on a day like today–when even the Metro North station is snowed in and the village needs help getting the snow off the streets.

A thing about living in this town–and staying in this town–is that we’ve gotten to know people during our years here. Good people. Kind people. People with plows. One in particular is our friend Pierre. Pierre is an eccentric older French gentleman who lives just up the street from us. He had a plow attached to his truck last winter because, well, he’s an eccentric old French gentleman. Each time it’s snowed this winter he’s shown up at the base of our driveway and asked if we needed help and, each time, shovels in hand, we’ve shook our heads and told him, “No. We’re good. We can do this ourselves!”

This time, however, we needed help. It took us awhile to admit that. And even longer to agree that we should ask for it. I think we were mostly embarrassed because we had to admit defeat. But, finally, Ray made the call and Pierre was here about 15 minutes later. He told us, with only the slightest of smirks, that he hadn’t bothered to stop by this time because we never needed him in the past and then he lowered that curved steel plate to the ground and wiped our driveway clean. When he was finished he rolled down his window and yelled, “Don’t be strangers,” and gave us a salute as he drove out of sight.

It felt like Christmas after he left. The driveway was passable, we were all still speaking to one another and there was still enough daylight left to sled and make snow angels and play with the dog. The truth is, we usually have a some fun together out in that driveway, battling the elements, working towards a common goal. Often a snowball fight ensues and sometimes we take a walk around the block to chat with our neighbors and complain about how poorly the sidewalks are cleared.

The best part, though, is when we get back home and change out of our wet clothes. We  make a pot of tea and gather books and magazines and then snuggle up together under a giant wool blanket on the couch.

We got to do the couch early today and nobody bickered and the dog was silent as a lamb.

Thanks, Pierre.
























































































































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