She woke for the second time to the sound of errrr errrr errrr, errr errr errr, and when she realized it was not part of her dream, she jumped from her bed and rushed to the window. Across the porch and through the naked black branches of the dogwoods, she could see her neighbor's driveway and his son's blue sports car stuck in the snow. She glanced then to the bookshelf behind her, to the atomic clock. 6:00.
Six o'clock!!! Oh nooooo, she whined. What happened? Well, what happened was she had gone back to bed after the 4:00 check on the weather. Yes, it was snowing but very lightly. She would just get cozy for a few more minutes, then check again. Ha! Two hours later, in a panic, she threw on anything that would keep her warm. Wild-eyed she ran down the basement stairs searching for her son's old snow mobile boots, pounding them against each other to warn any sleeping spiders that they had better vacate the premises, their warm bed was about to be invaded. She found an old pair of heavily insulated camouflage gloves and put them on. She then had to take them off in order to turn the knob on the door to get out. Oh brother. Why, why did all of this have to happen when she was in such a hurry?
She grabbed the snow shovel and tromped across the porch. The flakes, though tiny, were coming down fast, and the wind was whipping the snow in drifts across her driveway, looking like the peaks of whipped cream in a bowl. She wondered why she was the only one out when usually all of the neighborhood men were out showing off their tractors and snowblowers. Then she remembered, it was Sunday, and they were not expected at the church by 7:30 for warm-ups, for the church's annual Christmas cantata. But she was.
Where to begin? She looked from the garage door out to the street, a hundred feet of snow drifts, one to three feet high. She went straight out the middle and then shoveled a path to the garage thinking it would be much easier to do the lighter part first, working her way to the street to deal with the heavy snow and salt that the snowplow had left behind. She moved along at a fairly steady pace, thinking, for some reason, of the Panama Canal. She was about half way down the drive when she thought of taking a short break, maybe some hot chocolate. She looked at the time on her cellphone and nearly fell into the snow. She had a choice to make. She could shovel like a mad woman and go immediately to the church smelling of sleep and sweat, dressed in her mismatched clothing, hair matted and sticking up in all directions, or....
She pressed the numbers. "Hello?"
"I'm sorry for calling so early. Is Jim there? I've been shoveling. I don't think I can make it by 7:30."
Jim was her choir director who just happened to live on the next street. Right away his wife said, "Don't worry about a thing. Jim will pick you up. He is out snow blowing the driveway right now."
"Oh, praise the Lord! I will jump in the shower right now. I will be ready."
And, she was.
Jim came along and she made her way through the snow to the car. "I don't know about this," he said. "Will we even have a choir show up? Will there be anyone there to listen? Maybe I should just cancel it."
Looking like some red cheeked Campbell's Soup kid and still revved up from her snowy labors, she happily chatted about their hard work at preparing the beautiful music and that no matter what, no matter who, "We can do it!"
As Jim turned off the engine, he looked at her and said, "You know, right now I feel there is nothing a smile can't fix. Thanks."
Only three choir members did not make it in and there were plenty of people there to listen. They always thought of the 8:00 service as a dress rehearsal anyway. Between services she went to the church library to enjoy coffee and a few goodies at Martha's Coffeehouse, laughing and chatting with friends.
The church was full by 10:30 and she was well warmed up for the high descant on "O Come All Ye Faithful" and her few solo lines on "O Holy Night" at the end. Her eyes glistened as she listened to the words of the closing prayer and when she looked up, she saw the red glow of the poinsettias decorating the church as well as the emotion filled faces of those who had just been blessed by the music.
After a long lunch with friends she was dropped off in front of her house. As she walked up the little path she noticed how sunny it was and how all the men were now out clearing their driveways with their loud stinky snowblowers. She knew she should get busy on the rest of her driveway but because of her pride, she did not want to stand there shoveling three scoops and resting for ten minutes in front of everyone. So she had tea instead and took a long luxurious nap. She awoke to the dark at five, slowly dressed herself in her snow shoveling gear and went outside.
Alone once again, she looked up at the clear dark sky, except for the multitude of stars that seemed to be saying, "We're so beautiful, you can't blame us for any of that." She looked to the neighboring homes, some with Christmas lights glowing out over the snow and their well-chiseled driveways, and she began to shovel. When she was through, she tromped back across her porch and sat in the snow-covered swing. It was so quiet and she began to laugh out loud, not real loud, but loud enough, thinking that in all her vanity she could have dropped dead and lay there all night long, and anyone driving by might say, "Look at that crazy lady, making snow angels at this time of night."