The backyard willow bushes were no match for the extraordinary snow, deep and heavy. Branches broke and trunks twisted, nearly all of them. My Saturday chore, after the snow melted in a sudden thaw, consisted of cutting out the broken wood and chopping it up and cramming it all into the big garbage cans for Monday’s pickup. And I raked up piles of rotting leaves pressing on the grass against the rock wall, topping off the cans. It is only January, and I asked myself why I was doing this chore now instead of putting it off until spring. Because it needs doing was the simple answer, and I wanted to be outside. Mom’s lower limbs still function but bend on stiff and painful knees, and she drove herself to the orthopedist who numbed her knees and inserted long needles that delivered impressive quantities of yellow steroidal liquid that will calm and lubricate the machinery for another six months. She feels better now, but sees no reason to prove the point on the stairs, opting instead for the knee-saving chair lift. Dad’s own legs have failed him, being of practically no utility and instead being a great nuisance of weight to be dragged around. Though his doctor has seen him four times in six months, and knows first-hand Dad cannot walk, Medicare insisted on yet another face-to-face visit (we’re all for preventing insurance fraud) for the sole purpose of documenting Dad’s need for a power wheelchair. So, Dad risked injury and jeopardized health to travel to his injury risk manager and health care provider to document his already well-documented decline. A year ago, I had little notion of the complex (for me) and arduous (for Dad) procedure of transporting an overweight infirm 87-year-old to and from appointments. Relieved to be back at home, Mom and Dad rested in their recliners, and I bustled about in my cooking apron. The thermostat showed the temperature dropping, and Sandy’s public works department emailed to warn of freezing pipes (100 houses had burst pipes the night before), and advised the city’s population to leave a pencil-stream of water running in the kitchen sink—moving water is less likely to freeze—wasting the water we prayed so fervently for in our Utah desert clime. At 6:00 the next morning, my phone announced the temperature of the air outside my window: 1⁰ F. Our pipes did not freeze.
Courage at Twilight: The Weight of Snow
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