I rise to snowfall

Our sidewalk received an unexpected compliment after the latest Northeast snowfall.

It was "exemplary," said a bundled-up woman walking her dog and airing her complaints. Why couldn't everybody's be the same? The corners were especially bad.

Can you be exemplary if you like what you're doing? I like shoveling snow, particularly when it's light and fluffy and no deeper than the 11 o'clock news.

But I shovel for more than the job satisfaction of work that is done when 'tis done, as Macbeth hoped assassination would be. I also shovel to avoid icy buildup.

The less snow, the less to melt, and the less to freeze again. To be fair to myself (why not?), it's not just that I miss patches in broad daylight, but that snow also slides from the roof in the night and turns to ice without notifying me.

In the plastics age I hang onto an old metal shovel that can still chip ice. Ah, sonny, when you feel a solid sheet crack and loosen so it can be swept away, you're swept away, too.

But some ice is too thick to be worth the busting. The city uses chemical weapons to thaw the street, but I resist unless company is coming. Sand helps for the moment, but it's discouraged by the city, and it's still there after the ice is gone.

So am I, ready for another installment of ice and men, or maybe ice and the city. I prefer my snow without ice. But exemplars can't be choosers.

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