I arrive home from a morning at the office to find the sheet of ice that covered half the driveway melting apace. Small rivulets cascade down beneath the bubble-laced crystal baked by the high afternoon sun. I deposit my satchel inside the house and reappear with a dustpan and brush.
Last night the snow plow deposited mounds of dry rock salt in the middle of the street. From mound to mound I move, sweeping up the excess salt crystals. Soon the dustpan is full. I shower the salt over the sheet of ice as I ascend the driveway to the back porch.
My wife laughs when I reappear in the kitchen. “Now that’s what I call recycling!” she says.
“There’s no ice melt to be found in any of the local hardware stores,” I tell her. “And anyway, this is New England. ‘Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without.'”
The dog follows me out the back door and pauses to watch as I begin to chip away at the ice shoulder. She moves up the driveway to the garage, turns her head to the wind and lifts her nose.
The wind feels warm on my face. I undo the top button of my flannel shirt and push the woolen cap back on my head. Drops from the eaves of the roof spatter onto the snow. The ice snaps readily beneath the blade of the chipper.
I chip the upper section then pause for a breather. The dog lifts her front paw and sniffs the air. The sun is pleasant on my face.
Another blast of arctic air is coming early next week, followed by more snow. I push that thought to the back of my mind and take a deep cleansing breath.
Today there’s something stirring in the air. The dog senses it; I do too.