It Helps to Wait

(Essay)

Today is January 7, 2021. It snowed last night. It was the second time in four days. When I got up and looked outside the streets as well as the driveways across from our home were coated in white. From the height of the snow pile on my front stoop, it didn’t look like much, maybe about 3 inches but needed to be plowed to venture out. It was 27oF and windy. When it blew from the rooftops it looked like a blizzard with the white stuff swirling around and the wind howling. Despite that, I didn’t think it was going to be as bad as the one we got on January 3rd. On that day hundreds of motorists were stranded on a 35-mile strip of Interstate 95 just south of Washington D.C. People, including US Senator Tim Kaine, had nowhere to go for 27 hours. Miraculously there were no fatalities.

Bharati went out to get the newspaper from our driveway. Because of my history of falls, she didn’t want me to venture out. She came back empty-handed. There was no paper delivery. We are so used to reading the Washington Post every day during breakfast that we feel like we have missed something without a paper.

After breakfast, I opened the front door to peek outside. The house directly across from us had a clean driveway. Half an hour later we could see our neighbor to the left plowing the snow from her driveway. Brave souls, I thought. But on the other hand, they needed a clear driveway because they had to take their dog out. We don’t have a dog, so we were not in a hurry.

“We should wait till the wind blows the snow from the roof, then we will go out,” Bharati said. “Otherwise, it will be double work.” She added.

Since our move from Virginia, we were planning to sort out hundreds of photographs we had accumulated. Bharati wanted to sort them out and separate them into piles according to family and friends, our family and those to be discarded.

We sat in front of the TV and began opening the photo envelopes and looking at each photo to decide which pile it belonged to. In some of our photos, we looked so young, it surprised us. Some photos brought back memories of events we had hosted in our house, our children’s stepping up ceremonies, and vacations we had taken. We felt sad that some of our friends have passed away. Some photos just had buildings and we couldn’t recollect where we were when we took the pictures. We were simultaneously watching the View and the Andrea Mitchel Show after that.

It was past 1 p.m. I had not stepped out of the house for the past four days, because of the weather and the Omicron virus. I wanted to step out of the house for a breath of fresh air, even if I would get a cold blast. Bharati insisted that she would prefer I stay inside. I wanted to go out and help.

“I will be careful,” I said. “I will push the snow and not lift it,” I said.

It was lunchtime. We decided to finish the snow plowing first. We had purchased an electric snow blower three years ago. In Fairfax, we had used it once. During our move, we had kept it outside under our covered porch. A week ago, when the weathermen predicted a chance of snow we brought it in and kept it in the garage. Because the snow outside was less than four inches we decided not to use it.

Bharati got ready first. She had her snow boots on and the heavy jacket with a hood. I heard the whirl of the garage door being opened. I had planned to join her as soon as I was ready. The hiking boots I had bought three or four years ago for use during our trip to Machu Picchu are great in winter. They give more traction in snow.

I planned to wear those shoes, my thick winter jacket, and the beanie hat and gloves. It probably took me a couple of minutes to put on the boots and I was about to wear the jacket when I heard the whirl of the garage door again.

“It’s done,” Bharati said as she entered through the door leading to the garage from the laundry room. I thought I didn’t hear it well. How could she finish clearing the driveway and the stoop so fast?

“What do you mean it is done?” I asked with a puzzled look.

“A man has cleaned our driveway. I was about to start shoveling the stoop but the man said not to do it.”

Bharati said she asked him who he was and why is he doing it? The man just replied that his boss asked him to clear all driveways and the sidewalks in the entire neighborhood. Sure enough, he had two other men, all young, helping him. Two of them had shovels in their hand and the third one had a snowblower.

As I was placing my boots and the jacket in the closet I heard scraping and scratching noise on my front stoop. We still don’t know who were these men. We presumed our HOA had arranged for the snow removal as part of the benefits package. Who cares? As long as we didn’t have to do it in the freezing weather.

“I was telling you,” Bharati said. “It helps to wait. You were in such a hurry. Isn’t it good that we waited?”

What could I say to that? Of course, I agreed and hoped that it becomes a permanent part of our life here in this beautiful neighborhood.