Snow Plows In Paradise
I remember the stillness of those long ago winters; how quiet they were as the snow piled up outside my parents home in rural Maine. Stillness, like the grave, would envelop me as I slept. Oh those unforgettable nights, when refracted light from the nearby town acted like a shroud and caste an eerie orange hue against the belly of the clouds. Somewhere in the darkness, a noisy beast lay waiting, ready to start its snowy night’s prowl. In a distant lair its throat would bellow out life and it would move out into the darkness. No one would be spared its torment. No one would sleep through these nights. It tore across the snow covered streets and breathed fire and roared at the people as they recoiled in their beds.
My bed, distant from town, was spared the early anger of the beast. As night progressed, it ventured from the town, looking for dessert. My eyes would pop open, as the beast rumbled and roared beyond my bedroom window. Thinking like an ostrich, I buried my head underneath piles of blankets deluding myself that I was somehow safe. Even Nick, my stuffed zebra, or Charlie my stuffed, brown dog, couldn’t chase the beast away. My peace was broken.
I’d hear my father grumble. He muttered to my mother, his sleep disturbed. My sister would often take this opportunity to go to the bathroom. She paddled by with her stupid slippers that looked like Dumbo soaked in calamine lotion. I lay and planned my revenge against the beast.
I’m reminded of a quote from the Star Trek movie, The Wrath of Khan. In it Recardo Montalban says, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Although I think it predates Star Trek by centuries. Well I chose my revenge many years later on a cold and exceptionally snowy November. It was Thanksgiving my family was all about. I had been underfoot all afternoon as my aunts and mother prepared dinner. Most of the men, were clad in orange and had brought home a beast of a more passive nature. The kids, namely myself, my nieces, and nephews, were close in age, and were banished to the outer world to fend for ourselves in snow drifts that towered over our heads. We began, without purpose at first, to build the most humongous snow fort. As I created the recessed shelves for my arsenal, I realized my plan. I knew how I’d exact my toll of revenge on that fire breathing beast. I’d finally defeat that noisy cacophony of engine roaring, plow rumbling, smoke billowing creature that reeked such destruction on the miles and miles of pure and untrodden snow.
I urged the others to join me. To lay in wait behind our barricade, sure that we’d be safe. It wasn’t long and from far up the hill a rumble began. We all knew the terror of those nights when this beast would tear us from our dreams of quieter things. I’d touched a cord with the others and my men would do anything for me. I encouraged them, offered each praise before the battle. Assuring them that to die with honor was not to die in vain. The beast wheeled around the bend it’s light shown down our throats. It’s blade sent up fireworks of sparks and it carelessly and heartlessly flung aside the snow. We lay mute behind our walls—protectors of the snow each frozen, as the roar grew. We only had seconds to think about our love ones. I looked in Kim, the look in her eyes was of fiendish support of my plan. My much younger nephew, Dave, seemed ready to flee I pounced, as it roared past. The prey now the predator. I flung the first salvo. My troops responded. We assailed the plow. A new sound, far scarier than the others was the sound of air brakes. The red tail lights came on. A scary man was spit from the inside of the beast. He shouted and cursed at us. We ran very fast! The beast won another battle.
Someday all of us give up the things of youth. For some this metamorphosis is with pride and independence. With others it is with disdain and fear, so happy were we with our youth. Well, I am an adult now, though I still sometimes try to shrug off the term. But one thing I thought I’d given up was the notion of revenge against that creature of the snowy night-- okay it’s a stupid snowplow!
I decided I’d win the war in the best way of an adult. I’d buy my safety. I’m now living in a house far from the road that the noisy plow patrols. Perhaps somewhere in my mind, lurking just below the staid and “normal” me lies that plotting, vengeful mind of that spoiled boy who might have subconsciously inspired me to use this final tactic in the battle for a good night’s sleep.
Frankly, I thought I was the victor. But last January, in one of those wicked storms that New Englanders, fondly call Nor’Easter’s, the tide was turned again in its favor. A week before, I had temporarily setup my brand new mailbox for my brand new home. I had placed it into a five gallon pail of sand because the ground was too frozen to sink the post in. I put the pail a safe distance from the road. Later that week the postman left me a note. I thought he might have said what an ingenious temporary mailbox stand. Or perhaps, this is the most accessible mailbox I’ve ever delivered to. Instead he wrote, I’m having to get out of my car to deliver your mail. Would you please move the mailbox closer to the road--Peter. I remember how I shuttered as I slide the mailbox closer to the road. I couldn’t explain my fear; I passed it off as the cold. I know now it was my inner child, warning me. You know the rest.
As I drove home from work that day, I looked up the road and began to smile. It wasn’t the smile of a kid. A kid’s smile can mean only one thing—I’m happy. It was that two faced smile adults have to master before they become adults. It is the smile that says, look out I can’t be trusted. Ahead of me, lying in the snow, was my mail. I muttered under my breath, and I thought to myself, I bet that they’re all bills. My words fell as icicles upon no one’s ears. I stooped over what was my mailbox. It was heavy duty plastic but now had jagged teeth marks torn into it. Its door was gone; it must have been consumed by the beast. The pail itself lay yards away in the ditch, turned on its side, its guts strewn across the snow. The battle is joined….
Oh somewhere on a snowy night,
The beast angrily prowls still.
And I under my blanket tight,
Red eyes glaring beyond the sill.
It thunders down the quiet street,
As it breaths fire from its feet.
While chasing dreams from children--beat.
While I wish for long days of heat.