Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shovelling is My SuperPower

Today, in a stunning tribute to her late husband, the Widow Harback decides to shovel the deck. After all, the temperatures are rising and the sun might actually remove the lingering ice if she could just lift off the top layers of snow.

Uncharacteristically energized after clearing the driveway, sidewalk, and the large ridge left behind by the city snowplow, this small additional expenditure of energy shouldn’t take more than a half an hour, thought she.

Entering the west side of the yard, she notices fresh footprints, no older than just before yesterday’s new snowfall. Puzzled, she follows them as they go up to the gate, which is now dangling at a quirky angle, connected only by the top hinge. The footsteps go past the gate, up three stairs to the garage side door, which is never used as it is blocked by skis and other items inside.

What? Someone trying to break in her home? It doesn’t feel particularly threatening in the bold sunshine while she’s holding a shovel and wearing her super-powered, sweat-infused snow clearing outfit. Who could it be? The housemate is out of town. The son is back at school. The housekeeper isn’t due till later this week. Besides, they all have keys. Who could possibly want to get inside her home and break down the gate to do so?

Has she gained a stalker from the ill-fated coffee meet up with the “I’m-still-stuck-in-my-divorce” man from ChristianMingle.com?


Not to be deterred from her noble goal of clearing the deck, Widow Harback boldly tightens her leather gloved hands around the neck of the shovel and strides round the front of the house to the east access. Stepping across the buried flower beds by the window where the snow is least deep, she notes that her boots are not sinking in the drifts, but she is walking on top of them. It’s a miracle, nigh unto walking on water!

No, actually. Not so much.

Turns out the snow has hardened to rounded icy mounds in the numerous thaws and refreezes of a schizophrenic January in Calgary. This does not bode well for the mound on the deck…

Still, she strides on.

Follows the rabbit tracks into the back yard, through the back gate which she'd remembered to prop open last fall to allow for the jack rabbit freeway from back to front.

When she reaches the back yard, the traverse across warranted snowshoes, but she had not packed adequately for this long a mountaineering trek. She struggled through, battling blazing sunshine and made it to the stairs. She's on the lower level by the walk-out basement and the final peak (named Upper Deck) requires an oxygen-assisted ascent via ice picks and crampons.

Okay, well, perhaps not quite like that.

She climbs the full flight of stairs slowly, clearing snow off one step at a time. The 15-20 cm piles of snow fall easily to the ground but an ominous layer of ice 3-5 cm thick stubbornly clings to each stair.

She notes the half hour mark is long past at this point and her stomach reminds her it would still like a bit of breakfast. She makes her first shovel thrust.

Crunch. Nothing.

Another. Crunch. Nothing. It only takes a few swings of the shovel to realize the entire deck is one massive frozen snowball. Sigh.

Widow Harback pauses for a moment, in gratitude and remembrance of her husband. She whispers a prayer of thanks to God for loaning him to her for 31 years. The deck will never be swept fresh clean like Mr. Harback kept it, but what a privilege to have enjoyed that act of kindness for 31 long Canadian winters! She should have been more appreciative while she had him around to appreciate.

Hopes dashed, but somewhat relieved that this unrealistic goal exceeded even her Super-Snow-Girl powers, she makes sure both exit doors onto the deck from the house are free and clear in the unlikely event of a fire, returns to the house for a well deserved shower and begins composing this blog in her mind.

Perhaps it should have stayed there.

Perhaps I should have breakfast before I write about Widow Harback's “Super-Snow Girl” adventures in the future. I believe I may have just attained my PhD (Pile it Higher and Deeper). (Told you I was good at shovelling).

Thank you for listening, and watch your step as you leave.


  1. I love this! Such humour. I see that Pamela and I have rubbed off on you. I like to take credit where it is not due.