Ordinary People

 

gingerbread couple

           I had just come back from running some errands, which is a loosely defined way of saying that I got a haircut, stopped at Tim’s for a cup of coffee to go, and then wandered around taking pictures. It probably sounds less trifling to say I was running errands than to detail the boring specifics. The haircut only took fifteen minutes, five of those recapping the holidays, the coffee came courtesy of the drive-thru window and a friendly, older woman named Nancy, and the picture taking was guided by whichever way the sun was shining. I really had no itinerary or agenda, and in a few hours, I made my way back home.

            When I pulled up into the driveway, I could see that Mrs. G. had raked the snow off the front roof, cleared the front step and had moved on to shoveling the driveway. I felt a twinge of guilt about that, since I’ll normally clear the driveway with a snowblower about the size of a Mini Cooper, and here she was doing it with a shovel.

            I parked the truck and nodded as I walked by, carrying my camera bag, the empty coffee cup and my spiffy new haircut, but she was in the zone, captivated by blue skies, the task at hand and her music. My wife likes to go for hour-long walks and she normally listens to a playlist on her iPod using a set of headphones as earmuffs, and my guess was that this was where she was heading when she got distracted and started clearing snow. I kicked the slush off my shoes as I passed through swan goose 2015-01-18the garage, and went inside.

            Once I was in the warm back hallway, I greeted the dog and took off my shoes, and was about to put on my boots so that I could snowblow the rest of the driveway when I looked out the window. My wife was singing loudly and for what was certainly the first time ever in human snow shoveling history, she was busting some impressive dance moves while pushing the shovel.

            She was having fun.

            So I made a sandwich—grilled cheddar, to be exact—with some chips and a pickle on the side. Our driveway is several hundred feet long and fairly straight until it veers off at ninety-degrees towards the garage. I figured she’d do the section nearest the house, and I would go out and snowblow the long stretch to the road, but she was already heading in that direction.

            “Huh,” I said to our dog, Milo, who agreed with me. He usually does, so I made a pot of coffee while Mrs. G. sang and danced to and fro as she pushed the snow off to the sides, even doubling back to catch the windrows that were left behind. It was amazing to watch, and inspired by her hard work, I had a couple of gingerbread men with my coffee, they being tasty little holiday squatters that I found hanging around in the back of the cupboard. I bit the heads off first.

            Before I knew it, Mrs. G. was almost done. It would be silly now to deprive her of such a wonderful accomplishment, so I ice ice baby 2 2015-01-10freshened up my cup and moved to the office. As I popped the memory card out of the camera and into the computer, I could hear my wife’s singing growing faint as she shoveled five feet out into the actual road on her way to the mailbox. In the nine years we’ve lived here, I have never seen anyone on the street shovel their driveway by hand before, let alone a portion of the road.

            I eventually lost sight of her behind some trees, so I looked at the photographs on the screen and started the rapid process of editing out the duds. If I take fifty pictures, I usually delete forty-seven, so the excuse of taking a great picture is really more of me driving around and looking at scenery rather than snapping something that will grace the cover of National Geographic.

            A few minutes later, Mrs. G. came in and walked up behind me, all red cheeked and smelling like freshly washed linens that had just come in from the clothesline. “I’m going to have some lunch and then I’m going for a walk. It’s a beautiful day,” she said, which is exactly what she did. If it’s a beautiful day, she will say so at least a hundred times throughout that day, as if that moment is more beautiful than the one that preceded it. Once she finished her lunch (yogurt, I think) she opened the front door and took the first few steps towards what would be a three-mile walk.

            Me? I loaded up the camera gear, hopped back in the truck, and drove off on a mission to find something interesting. We live equal WEBSTER BARN #3distances from Lake Ontario, vast acres of farmland and the associated farm garnishes, and a very photogenic city—all of which take on a new perspective in the winter. Surely I could find something interesting.

            An hour or so later, we both met up at home, compared notes, and not too much longer after that, Mrs. G. baked up some tilapia and steamed some broccoli and carrots. I set the table. After dinner we filled the rest of the evening with knitting (her), reading (me) and some TV, interspersed with a lot of talking. One would think that after so many years together that we would have said it all, but I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface.

            I bring all of this up because this was a day in the life of what married people do. These are the ordinary days that accumulate gently in fine layers, one on top of the other.

             What’d you do? I don’t know…

             These are the days we most likely won’t remember individually, they being washed out by the extraordinary events that tend to get all the attention. The longer we’re together though, the more these little days mean to me. It’s time we share whether together or apart.

            Today was one of those days, not unique, not extraordinary but special nonetheless, and if I’m lucky, there will be another one tomorrow, another layer, another day; all blended together yet each one unique and made all the more interesting for being shared.

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  • Karen Oakes

    Beautiful post, Rick. You and your wife are very fortunate to have one another. 🙂