Snow Birds

My parents left for Florida soon after Thanksgiving.

As I receive final instructions about the plants, Mom says, "Oh. And don't forget. Dad won a snow blower (a door prize? a raffle? grab bag? I still don't know!) and you should take it. It's in the garage. We won't be needing it in Miami."


"And whatever you do, don't lock yourself in the garage. It's very easy to do that, the door closes right behind you, and if it's locked, you'll get locked in and you can't open the outer door, you know, because your father has bolted it shut."

"Sounds like the voice of experience."

"I never did it. But it could happen."

"I know."

The place is locked up and better-armed than Fort Knox, and it's not as if there's anything to steal except the furniture. But you know how people from Eastern Europe in that generation can be about the fruits of their labor. Remind me to tell you a few sofa stories one day. Not now.

Anyway, I go to work on Friday morning and the snow kicks up while I'm listening to the woes of the universe, and by the time I leave the building there are a lovely three inches of powder all over the car. I'm thinking: Hmmm, I should go by and get that snow blower.

But the day is late and there are errands to run and I still have some calls to make, so this doesn't happen. On return to the homestead FD is in the kitchen cutting fruit for his friends, beating off a caller from the hospital who wants him to sign a death certificate. When he finally gets off the phone, I say,

"I guess I should have picked up that snow blower."

He objects. "It's big. You have to fuel it. We have nowhere to put the thing."

"What's wrong with the living room?" I cry. "We could use it to hang our wet coats."

He just shakes his head.

We're invited out for dinner, always a good thing, and FD and Little One walk ahead of me to the synagogue. The plan is that I'll skip that part, take my nap, and meet them in an hour for dinner. I'll bring the candy.

I wake up from the nap with a start, always do, and throw on layer after layer of outerwear, cold-weather phobe that I am: 2 sweaters, a ski vest with a hood, 2 hats, a pair of gloves under mittens, and (don't hate me) my thousand year old fur coat. Yes, it's true, several small animals died for this sin. But no animal rights activist has said anything to me so far.

Gimme your best shot.

Dinner is lovely, we're with friends that we haven't seen in ages, and the conversation is fairly intimate, no one's mentioned religion or politics or animals, not in a provocative way, at least. In a flash all the food is gone and we have to leave. FD is hosting a shiur, a class, at our home. He's attended this class for over thirty years, the men rotate hosting it, the same Sephardic* rabbi teaches it. Women can sit in if they want, but we're not terribly interested.

(Pretty amazing, isn't it, that any subject can stay interesting for over thirty years?)**

On our way home it is obvious that we are trudging through an added two inches of snow and the shovels aren't keeping up. FD has to drop by and pick up a friend and Little One has a better offer. So I march on ahead. The skies are dusting me with new flakes, the snow is sparkling in the streetlight, and I'm thinking it's a shame this is only a six block walk. I'm cozy and warm in all of these clothes and could walk forever.

The men must notice I'm happy because they catch up to me. FD is bragging about my having bought cross country skis last year, obviously something everyone should do, now that global warming has transformed Chicago into snowman heaven. He has resisted them, however, thinking he's superior because he downhill skis, and if anything, he'll get on an airplane and find a mountain with some snow.

But I know my boy and last week I spend a couple of hours and a couple of dollars, maybe $30 plus shipping, and buy him some cross country skis. Used, obviously, but Rossi's. Getting new 3-pin boots is more of a challenge, but these are available. He'll like it, for sure, if only he tries. Who wouldn't? On the safe side, I buy him a size that will work for Little One, too, just a little bigger.

The guys are reminiscing about huge snowfalls past, and we get home and brush off our coats in the front hall. My boots slip off really easily because of the plastic bags over my socks for added warmth to the toes.

"Class act, honey," FD murmurs, embarrassed. He's easily embarrassed.

"You may be cool," I say. "But I have to be warm."

The guys sit down at the table. FD wants me to try his guac. I'm not hungry, but okay. "Great, dear. Delish."

And I go to bed. And I sleep almost 10 hours without interruption, wake up from whatever movie was playing in my head in a panic. This is not me, sleeping so long. It must have been awfully quiet on the street last night. I look out the window. Wow.

There's another four inches of snow. At least another four, and it's still snowing. Some might have optimistically said, still drifting, but they would be wrong. You can't even tell there are steps up to the porch from my angle. It's one snowy incline. The cars are covered. Nothing's moving. I run downstairs, open the front door. Silence.

Eventually I begin to layer up to go to shul anyway, because it is what I do, and trudge through this powdery but wet blanket, liking it well enough. I don't hang around very long to socialize after the services. It's a new synagogue for me and I'm here because it's closer and the cold is wearing me down (and it's fun to try new synagogues). In Chicago you can attend as many synagogues as there are synagogues as long as you pay dues or give a decent contribution once in awhile.

I meet up with FD at home, for he still shleps out to our shul every week, as he should, and he brushes the snow off my hair. "Some storm!" he exclaims.

"I'm freezing," I reply. And I am.

We watch the snow from the window for a minute, shrugging our shoulders.

"Could've used that snow blower, right?" I tease.

"Nah. We're good. Two strong boys in this house. But. . ." He hesitates a second. "Is there any chance those skis might come today?"


*Sephardic refers to Spanish, really Turkish, Iraqi Iranian, or Moroccan, lineage that traces back, of course, Israel or Palestine, previously the name of the Jewish homeland prior to the birth of the State of Israel. Jews deported or murdered during the Spanish expulsion of 1492 are referred to Sephardim, as opposed to Ashkenazim, Eastern Europeans.

**Jewish studies are provocative, and because we tend to study in groups and nibble on all kinds of sweets and salty things while learning, fun. Before and after there is a great deal of news to share, new babies, who's sick, how they're doing, where are they, that sort of thing.


Lisa Marie said…
You are such a good blogger. I read your posts with anticipation of what the next line is going to say.. it's like a good story!

And I really thought this story was going to end with you getting locked in the garage. Glad it didn't happen though!
therapydoc said…
There's still time, Lisa Marie.
blognut said…
Like the first comment, I was certain we were going to end up locked in the garage for at least a paragraph or two!

Just a thought - you know I'm in this snow too, so if you aren't going to get that snowblower....
Margo said…
How fun - you and Aba skiing down the alleys of urban Chicago. You might have made a believer out of me. Remember when we used to put socks on the dog to walk him in this kind of weather?
Anonymous said…
We can learn from our parents...
Greetings from Arizona!
kmom said…
Jewish school sounds much like my Sunday school group. Just a cozy time on a winter day. For such we do get out even if we have to slog through the snow!
Another 6 inches of fresh powder here.
Retriever said…
Agree with Kmom, sounds like our church's small groups in people's homes. They started out as Lenten meetings to ponder things spiritual and SERIOUS, but nobody could bear to keep serving lentil soup and dry bread (penitential and self-consciously "simple") so we regressed back to the usual hospitable rich foods. The husbands gulp them down before their wives can snark about "DON'T eat that."

It's usually a theme based BIble Study, with some canned video talking head before the Bible lesson and questions, and I have often suspected our leaders of deliberately picking asinine speakers so that we can RUSH thru the "serious" stuff then proceed to yak about kids, books, and real life generally...

But with us the food is the focal point. Typically the families with the huge gorgeous great rooms and kitchens have wives who can't cook. I don't understand this, it may be unique to my hometown.

Such a premium placed on physical appearance and youth, you never saw so many 45 year old still-anorexics in your life! Sad for them, but that's how the richer, more successful men (who can afford big houses) want their women to look here. The wives who really cook (like me) and have the waistlines to prove it, have such tiny kitchens and houses, that we just bring our yummy treats to the Big Houses, and never host the gettogethers.
therapydoc said…
Seems like that 99.something that we have in common raising it's beautiful head.
Isle Dance said…
Nobody can give you a hard time about something you're reusing and keeping out of the landfill. Including fur. :o)

And...I'm stealing your plastic bag idea...even though I don't use plastic bags anymore, if I can help it. Yet every now and then, two need to be kept out of the landfill...
Margo said…
Hi, This is the other Margo, the one from SC who is in her 40s. I see I have a name twin here on the comments! Isn't that feeling of sleeping 10 hours amazing? Great story... I savored every minute. Your meetings sound similar, but better than my presbyterian or episcopalian bible studies, etc. (maybe because of the longevity?)
blognut said…
Puh-lease tell me that you have picked up that snowblower! I have to know that it's being put to use in this Chicago weather. We are headed out to shovel off our driveway one more time tonight and I can't do it if I know there's an idle snowblower sitting in a garage anywhere in Chicagoland.

By the way, that bag idea, will it work on my whole body? I promise not to pull it up over my head.
April_optimist said…
I'm headed north this week. Not the best timing but things need to be done when they need to be done. Your post made me remember why I fled south! Think I'll go throw another sweater or two in the suitcase......