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AN APPEAL: PUT DOWN YOUR SHOVELS!

02/12/2011

One night not too long ago, we experienced a historic blizzard that buried the neighborhood and left cars locked in place under the enormous weight of a twenty inch snow fall.  The following morning, my friends and I assembled our snow-suits and snuck out through the back yard to traipse through the alley and avoid the looks of the hard working shovelers.  Out front, it seemed that an army of good citizens were out breaking their backs to free their cars and facilitate the return to work as expeditiously as possible.  However, it was a snow day, and our only thought was to explore and savor it like the fine gift that it was.  Each of us being years out of high school, we could barely remember the glee felt on those special mornings when school was canceled and a snow day declared.  But in the days before the storm, everyone was buzzing about and bracing for a bad blizzard.  They called it “historic” and we were warned.  They said it would be “paralyzing.”  All I could hope was that if we were lucky, it just might be strong enough to shut down schools and the entire city.  What would it be like for the whole city to have a snow day?  No one would have to work, and there would be nothing to do but enjoy the weather and each other’s company.  With no where to be and no way to drive there anyway, time would slow to a more comfortable pace.  Oh, if only Power Down Week could have stopped everyone’s cars with the completeness of the blizzard!

And yet, looking down several blocks we saw loads of people using all their might to break the blizzard’s spell.  With each scoop of their shovels, the social pressure mounted imploring us to do our part and clear the snow away.  I wanted nothing more than to let it be and enjoy this time a little longer, when what mattered most was what was right in front of us.

It’s unlikely we’ll get another blizzard like this before the spring, but perhaps that makes my appeal all the more urgent.  Neighbors and people of Milwaukee, please promise me at least that you won’t rush to pick up your shovels, that you will procrastinate clearing the snow and in so doing expand the possibility of another snow day for everyone.  We all must clear the sidewalks of course, but why not then throw the snow in to the street?

Why a rush to get back to work at all?

Hopefully we can meet each other next time.  You might see me with a beer and a sled, you might see me catching snow on my tongue or making loosely calculated leaps into soft looking drifts, but you won’t see me with a shovel because there will always be time for that later.

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