These blizzard conditions are grim. It’s relentless. Hour after hour more and more blowing snow. Yesterday there were knee-high drifts of snow in the driveway and as fast as I shovelled the piles reappeared.
It’s ironic because this week we’re faced with public recognition of our own, you might say relentless, enthusiasm. The daily newspaper for northern Sweden has written about our placing as Sweden’s number four bed and breakfast (according to Trip Advisor). They report that our guests like our enthusiasm for all things in and around Kiruna.
We really appreciate that our guests have taken the trouble to write such good reviews about us, but we have to admit that we aren’t happy and enthusiastic every day.
Right now for instance – the forecast is for three days of blowing snow. We’re into the second day. I’m not the least bit enthusiastic about it, and while it’s going on I’m finding it hard to be enthusiastic about anything else in Kiruna either. Why do we live where everything is such hard work? I’m tired, bored of shovelling and getting nowhere, and dispirited that we have guests from India and nowhere reasonable to suggest for them to go.
I read in an English paper that a new drama has begun on TV, set in a mining town called ‘Fortitude’, somewhere north of the arctic circle. According to today’s review the drama is set in a ‘fashionably chilly environment’. Fashionably chilly? Just reading it makes me feel grumpy.
So yesterday I was trying to keep on top of the build up of snow drifts in our driveway, and removing the piles in front of where our car is stored.
On the third time of going out to shovel, I could have thrown myself into a pile of snow and just cried. The driveway never seemed to get cleared. I’ve plenty of experience of snow shovelling and know you have to have a method, and I was following my method. But there was no progress at all. The piles of snow just blew back where I’d removed them. I was concentrating on clearing just a bit wider than a car-sized path, not wanting to waste my energies on anything more ambitious. I ran the sled up the sides of the driveway, then down the middle, back up the middle, down the sides. I had to work hard to keep paths free to take the snow away.
Then when I came back to the driveway it was full of snow again. The piles of snow on the sides were collapsing into the areas I’d cleared. Only very slightly at first, so I didn’t notice it was happening. All I saw was that I didn’t seem to be making progress.
I decided I must have been knocking the sides as I pushed the sled. I did the area again. I turned back to admire my work and could see that not only was the snow falling back onto the driveway, but it now it wasn’t wide enough to drive car through. In the desperation of my struggle with the snow I’d lost all sense of scale.
I calmed a rising sense of panic. I can only do what I can do, I reminded myself, and apparently I can’t clear the driveway. I looked around at the snow drifts. The snow blew in my face and wind whipped up trails of snow from the pile I had just created away from the driveway. The snow was dancing in the air. I was enjoying watching it, no longer feeling it was my enemy. Snow can be meditative.
I needed to change the method, so I abandoned the goal of keeping the driveway clear and decided I would just try to reduce the height of the snow drifts. With that goal in the long run it might still be possible to reclaim the driveway.
I looked at how the snow was building up. It was flying across the land and hitting the high snow sides of the now very narrow driveway. It took only seconds for me to realise what I ought to do was drive my sled into those piles.
I pulled out huge piles of snow from the sides and saw space around the driveway opening up. I experienced a tremendous sense of relief. Not only was I no longer trying to achieve the impossible (clear the driveway), it now looked as if my work was having some effect. As I continued to attack the sides, it occurred to me that now it might, after all, be worth trying to clear some of the driveway.
The answer was blowin’ in the wind. I can’t say I’m enthusiastic again, but at least we now live in hope…