Warrior Girl Making Spring Snow Angels

It is 6 a.m. on March 22, 2014, two days into the spring season, at least by the calendar. It’s still dark outside when I peer out the window of the front door. The porch and front yard are blanketed in fresh snow, the sheer volume of it softening everything, all the hard-angled edges of the sidewalk are fluffy, the shrubs reduced to Dr. Seuss-inspired shapes, sagging and curved and hilarious.

This much snow on the second day of spring is hilarious.

Sure, this is central Ontario, and sure we usually have snow this time of year, but the sheer magnitude of this snowfall, in March, is epic.

Just yesterday the snow load on the back porch had reduced so much that the Muskoka chairs appeared to be shaking off their winter coat and re-staking their claim for summer. The snow banks lining the roads had begun melting and flattening, like a white Wicked Witch of the Winter, the edges shrinking in from the roads and sidewalks to reveal the grass below.

Now, though, between the Daylight-Savings Time inspired darkness and the fresh snowfall, it feels like the middle of January, not March 22.

I look out across the yard to the road beyond and then to the end of our long driveway. I can see what appears to be a two foot bank across the end of the driveway, installed there by the Township’s passing snowploughs who’ve no doubt been out working all night. There’s no doubt what needs to happen next either. My daughter needs to get on to that road in a couple of hours in order to get to her job as a cheerleading coach (assuming the highway is passable.) and I would dearly love to follow her out the door to go to the Farmer’s Market (assuming the roads in town aren’t snow-covered and treacherous.)

So what is a warrior girl do? Grab a shovel and go to work.

When I crack open the garage doors it is immediately apparent that no one will be getting to the road this morning. The snow is a foot deep and no matter what effort I make, the cars will not able to navigate the driveway. Still, the job has to get done. I cue up my Warrior Dash Training playlist from 2012 – Lady Gaga, Pink, JeLo, Adele, Rihanna – and set to work, breaking into dance before starting to shovel. It’s 6 a.m. It’s dark out. The neighbours won’t likely see me swivelling my snowsuited hips and throwing my hands in the air, and even if they do, I don’t care.  I mean if I have to work why can’t it be fun?

Fun or not, the snow isn’t the light, fluffy stuff of January; it’s damper, heavier, and it takes a solid half-hour just to clear the area in front of the garage. Eventually, I stop and lean against my shovel, close my eyes and feel the snow, still falling, land on my cheeks. Through my earbuds, Lady Gaga tells me to put my paws up “You were born to be brave”. I open my eyes and blink the snow off my lashes. Pink insists that “we’ll never be, never be anything but loud”.

They’re right, I think. And it strikes me then, standing at the top of my snowy driveway, in my IPod hat and my snow pants, that one of the things that rankles me most about being a lawyer is the seriousness of it all, the absence of fun and silliness, the devaluation of being oneself. We’re always stepping into a stiff uniform, always speaking and writing in precise and emotionless language which, most of the time, no one reads anyway. Unless there’s trouble. Then they read it and you better hope you got it right. Why this occurs to me while shovelling, I couldn’t tell you. I just know that if I can seize a moment in my day to escape that tight-fitting career box I’ve wedged myself into, you bet I will.

And so I dance, and then, realizing the futility of the task at hand, I lean my shovel against the wall and drop backwards onto the driveway, onto the foot-deep mattress of snow. I flap my arms and legs, digging an angel deep into the snow. When I’m done, I stand up and admire my handiwork, shake off the snow and put away my shovel. The sun will start to rise soon, and the real work of the day will begin. Time to head back inside. With any luck, I’ll remember to dance along the way, every day.


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