I was thinking on how truly often things don’t go as planned as I filled the gas tank on our snowthrower for the fourth time by last Sunday morning. Not that I was the only one out of the 80 or so million people affected by last weekend’s snowstorm that suddenly wasn’t taking normal for granted.
When we saw snow was coming, we got a little romantic about it – warm snacks, plenty of firewood, rented movies and an awesome pot of slow-cooked chicken soup to make the house smell nice. Sure, there would be some clearing to do Saturday afternoon, but the snow would pack nicely on the hill at the park, and turn Sunday fun. Sledding with the kids, then a fire and hot chocolate, commiserating with our neighbors about how those silly weather people over-dramatized and got everyone riled up again.
So much for expectations.
I don’t like to complain too much, but all that immediacy was just stressful. Between constant weather watching, snow clearing and three overly excited kids, fuses got a little short. I couldn’t even muster the will to start the stove.
My wife helpfully redirected my negative energy by suggesting that I suck it up and go help our neighbors (prompting a self-inflicted head smack for not thinking of it myself). Turns out they hadn’t had the chance to free any cars before getting plowed in. So I felt better.
After helping get them reasonably clear, my neighbor astutely noticed that the elderly couple on his other side was thoroughly blocked in. Worst-case scenarios and terrible what-ifs suddenly filled the conversation as we surveyed the nearly shoulder-high pile that the plows had left at their driveway. After calming our imaginations that they were actually fine, a bunch of us pitched in and got them opened for business in an hour. My daughter Dolly grabbed a shovel without anyone asking her. My youngest, Pinball, humbly accepted payment in cookies, which was the only thing that got him off the huge pile of snow that the thrower was forming. In all, we were all thankful for being able to help.
So our romanticized, picturesque weekend turned into two solid days of shoveling, unburying cars, heat-and-eats and aspirin. And the stove was still off.
But soon after we were finished, a tub of chicken noodle soup arrived at the door as a welcome thanks from a grateful neighbor. Kind of made things balance, actually.