Thursday, January 27, 2011


We were hit by yet another snow storm last night.  According to news sources we are already at the 6th snowiest season since they began recording.  I don't mind the snow too much.  I much rather have snow than rain.  I love how the landscape looks after a snowstorm.  I like how the snow reflects light once the sun comes out, which compensates for the short winter days.  It is fun to see the tracks of the various animals have treked across our yard.  Not having to go to work is a mixed bag.  It is nice staying home, but it also means having to catch up with material when we do get back to campus.

Then there is shoveling and clearing the snow.  I also have mixed feelings about that.  I enjoy getting out of the house and doing something physical in the fresh air.  I like the peace in the area if I am out right after the snowfall: few cars, quietness, stillness.  The type of snow that has fallen does make a difference.  Light flaky snow is so easy to clear; I do not like if there is ice.  The one thing I hate - the giant hard levy of snow/ice piled up at the end of our driveway from the plows clearing the street.  It's such a chore to break through it.

As I was out shoveling the other day, the silence was broken by the roaring and grumbling of snow machines and riding mowers equipped with snow removal equipment.  Then a big front loader came along to clear our neighbor's driveway.  I stopped to take a break, which I need to do frequently given my pitiful level of fitness, and I looked around looking at the sources of the din.  I was the only one out with a shovel and hence the only one taking a breather.  If a neighbor threw a glance my way, I would offer them a wave to which they would wave back.  Occasionally a neighbor might drive by perhaps on their way to restock their kitchen.  Again waves might be exchanged.  But no conversation.

Perhaps if others would be shoveling, they would take a break like me and be willing to exchange a word or two.  If that were the case, maybe I would know my neighbors a little better.  Is this another example of technology (snow machines) or wealth (paying someone else to clear the snow) isolating us socially?

For now I will continue to shovel on my own amid the buzz of others technology.

1 comment:

Omar said...

I don't think there's an absolute—yes or no—answer to your question about community, but I understand what you're saying. I would rather risk saying that certain technologies (because even a "primitive" snow shovel is also an example of technology) and privilege (bought by wealth) endanger a sense of community than to say that they are irrelevant. Even if I don't share many words (let alone whole conversations) with my neighbors, there's still something very intimate about the exchange of acknowledging glances and smiles when more than one of us is out early in the morning clearing the previous night's snowfall.

And there's always a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that I'm able to do still do a few things that are not as sedentary as academic work.