Late Sunday night. More snow expected overnight and into tomorrow.
About six inches greeted me this morning. What didn’t greet me was the service I had contracted with to keep my driveway clear. On Sunday mornings, I always drive down to the market to pick up a muffin for Carol and the NY Times, if it has reached the store. So, I was not happy.
I eyed the driveway calculating whether I would be able to drive over the snow and up onto the road. I had already put on my snow boots to trudge across the road to pick up the local paper. That walk back and forth over and through snow drifts argued against trying to back my car out onto the road. That now seemed like a really bad idea with the prospect of my getting stuck at the edge of the road where the snowplows deposit their loads. I started to walk back into the house. After all, I could serve Carol her regular breakfast featuring toast instead of the muffin.
And I could read the Times online as I do when the paper is not available at the store. And it was about five degrees and windy, so getting back into the relatively warm house seemed like a good idea.
But not good enough.
A combination of my dedication to routine and irrational urge to get Carol her muffin even though, if I thought about it, I am sure she would be indifferent to the breakfast menu sans muffin, these factors pushed me to get my car out. I also recalled that I had spent a fair amount of money getting my old snow blower in shape before I had decided to save myself the stress and strain of snow removal and contracted with the service that had failed me this morning.
I went back into the house to don my ski mask, extra heavy double gloves containing one pair within another, flipped up my hood to cover my hat, walked into the garage, propped open the door with my splitting wedge to clear my egress behind the snow blower and onto the driveway.
I primed the snow blower, set the choke, maneuvered my clumsily clad fingers onto the pull cord handle and yanked.
Yanked again. And again.
Right after it had been serviced, the snow blower had started at the first yank.
I can be stubborn when an idea has rooted itself into my brain. I remembered that I had a spray that encouraged non-cooperative engines to start. I located the can, aimed it at the carburetor intake, sprayed. Then checked the choke and throttle control, just to be sure, grabbed the pull cord handle, and yanked. With a spark coming from the intake, the engine roared into life.
It took me about fifteen or twenty minutes to clear the driveway. At one point, I almost walked out onto the road in a whirl of blowing snow that hid an oncoming car. Fortunately, I saw it in time.
By this time, my hands, in spite of my gloves, were achingly cold, as was I, and tired as well from all the effort. I came back into the house, sat down to rest and wait until my fingers stopped aching.
I told Carol that I was now off to the store.
I returned a little later.
With a muffin and the paper.
Carol had her usual Sunday morning breakfast, and about that I felt very good. Admittedly an irrational feeling, but still enough to lift my mood as I sat down to read the paper.
Tuesday late. The wind is howling outside and snow is coating the windows. We are in the midst of an on again off again snow storm that is supposed to continue into Thursday.
I managed to get into town to do my shopping. Driving in I encountered a couple of near whiteouts from blowing snow, and the roads were icy. Driving in these conditions always makes me uneasy with the thought of Carol lying helpless in her bed. I know my concern is exaggerated, that sooner rather than later she would be taken care of should I be disabled.
But knowing that does not free me from the concern.
My plan today was to get my shopping done fast enough to leave me time to go to the florist we had been patronizing since moving here seventeen years ago, and pick up a flower arrangement for Carol’s birthday tomorrow. I checked with Lexie, today’s aide, and she said she could stay a little while longer if necessary.
My timing worked out even better than I expected so I finished my last stop at the grocery store on Eighth Street and drove east the few blocks to the florist.
Only to find out, and then to recall, that it had closed. Not for the season, but closed, as in out of business. That florist had been in business for seventy-two years, and picked now to quit. Actually not now, as I was reminded when I checked online: it had announced its closing last July, but I had not remembered.
I still wanted flowers for Carol, knowing, once again, my emotions were triumphing over my reason since the latter told me that it was an open question as to how tuned in Carol would be to her birthday. In the best of times, she was largely indifferent to the calendar although she was careful to keep a list of family birthdays that she could consult. Her indifference was to time in general. For birthdays, or appointments, she required some form of external prompt, such as a date book.
Now, of course, she is even less aware of what day it is. Still it is her birthday. I will read to her the few birthday cards that have arrived from those who apparently share my conviction that we need to honor the day whether or not she can be made aware of it. With that in mind, once I got home and had with Lexie’s help unpacked the groceries, I looked up florists in town, found a couple, chose one that had the best review and called up. I had an unexpectedly pleasant conversation with the person who took my call. She asked if I were from New York. I confessed I was born and raised in Brooklyn. She was pleased. She said she thought so, being herself from New Jersey, and so we agreed we were both fish seriously out of the water.
I ordered an assortment that would be colorful but left the details to her. My knowledge of ornamental flowers does not extend much past roses. They will be delivered tomorrow. I will show them to Carol, and read her cards to her. I am aware that I am insisting on doing all of this even knowing that if I let the day pass by without notice of its significance, Carol would be every bit the same as she is.
But I would be unhappy, remorseful, an obligation unfulfilled, one that belongs to the Carol that was.
On this one day I am perfectly fine with that.