Limbs that once reached for the heavens, were now saddled with a heavy burden and forced to bow to the ground. I watched in horror as they snapped one by one and came crashing to the earth with a terrific thud. That’s when something suddenly snapped inside of me. Then I realized there was one thing that had to be done.
This snow storm would be different from all others that had ever befallen Temple Valley. This time I would shovel my walkway, instead of letting my neighbors do it for me like I usually do. Responsibility had come knocking, in the form of branches top-heavy with crystallized vapors fallen from the sky, and I would answer shovel in hand.
Curiously or not, the opportunity to assume this responsibility as an adult member of the community had fallen on the Japanese national holiday known as Coming of Age Day. That’s the day when twenty-year-olds in Japan celebrate becoming an adult. Sure, maybe I was late to the party by a couple of decades but the important thing was I had arrived. All I needed now was a shovel.
As any adult knows, the road to responsibility isn't always smooth. Since it was a national holiday, the local hardware store was shuttered for the day. That meant the mega do-it-yourself center located two miles away across the frozen tundra was the closest place I could get my hands on a shovel.
Yes it was tough going but the prize waiting at the end of the arduous journey was well worth the hardships faced along the way. Upon entering the front door of the huge lumber and hardware emporium, my eyes were met by a silvery flash of light reflected from what was everything anyone could want in a snow shovel.
Attached to the shiny metal alloy scoop was a beautifully varnished wooden stick topped off with a bright red handle that screamed “I want to hold your hand.” So I did and after forking over fourteen hundred yen (about 16 bucks) to the cashier, I dashed home through the snow and slush with all deliberate speed. I was up to my knees in frozen muck but all I could think of was putting the metal to the macadam and letting that little shovel plow a path that people in Temple Valley would be talking about forever.
Then I heard a sound more hideous than fingernails across a chalkboard. It was the sound of broom bristles against bone dry concrete. That’s when I looked up and saw her. Most people here call her “the lady that lives behind the Tanaka’s” but to me she is the Snow Queen of Temple Valley.
Using nothing but a small potting trowel and whisk broom she had cleared the entire walkway around my home and beyond, making a swath wide enough for a small parade to pass through. Standing there with my shiny new shovel in hand, I watched what I was afraid were the last vapors of breathe leave my lungs in huge panting puffs against the backdrop of the Snow Queen's ever mounting piles of pure white crystals. Then, as if that huge weight had descended upon my shoulders and forced me to bow toward the ground, I thanked the queen for all her hard work and looked for a place to rest my broken spirit. After depositing my unused shovel by the front door, I entered the warmth of home and, exhausted, fell on the living room couch with a terrific thud.
From the Twitterverse:
— はくはく (@haku2) February 29, 2012
For more cool snowmen (aren't they all?) from the Internet and beyond click here.
Unrelated post with a similar title: The Sky is Falling