Eight inches of snow fell Christmas night, a few more inches accumulated the next day. The world fell silent for a time.
The oil-filled electric heater in my little studio needs time to warm and fill the space. I wear fingerless gloves like Bob Cratchit where he labored at Scrooge’s ledgers with scant coal on the fire. I don’t shut the door, just prop it ajar with a winged bronze pig as a door stop so the dog can see me sitting in the corner. She doesn’t like to come in; she waits outside lying on a flokoti rug in the next room with a vantage of all approaches.
Snow still fell while I shoveled on Boxing Day and Mercy circled the hill casting for the missing quail and squirrels—snow in big tattered flakes like ripped muslin, not the crystaline shapes cut from folded Christmas paper. The shoveled path from house to road and then down it filled in again and again with fresh heavy snow, but it’s wiser to shovel two inches six times than twelve inches once.
I offer Ethan $20 to help dig a track down the hill to the crossroad. He is thirteen now, born in the house next door. He doesn’t understand why we are shoveling when more snow is forecast. I point up at the sun rising above the fir trees and tell him the day will help melt new snow from the bare pavement. He wears a lion’s head hat as he shovels. I give him a $5 tip.
The old year is as shaggy and soiled as the melting snow.