How do I put it into words, after 25 years?
You have been there for me always, through thick and thin, fluffy or wet, powder or slop, light or heavy. Whenever I am in need, you answer the call.
It was not love at first sight, not hardly. I don’t recall the precise day of our meeting, now a quarter-century ago. There is just a hazy recollection – a snowstorm, a quick drive to the hardware store, the far aisle. You, leaning against a wall, clustered with a dozen or so others.
Me, a new homeowner with a deep and sudden need for a snow-clearing tool. Why I chose you, I cannot say. Perhaps because you were first in the row. Waiting.
Nothing seemed special about you, at first. You didn’t stick out from the crowd, announce your presence with a showy feature or a flirtatiously eye-catching color. But there was something pure and functional in your lines, utilitarian in your presentation. I just had to have you. And so it began.
All of it came rushing back to me Friday morning. Winter has come. Another fresh layer of snow lay on the sidewalk. As I grasped your handle and cupped your lean, strong shaft of a body in my left hand, I silently celebrated all of the times, over all of the years, we had done this together. Your curved, black plastic scooper has lifted tons of snow off of the sidewalk, driveway and porch steps. You have helped me make safe passage for countless passers-by, young and old. Our relationship has been strong, serviceable, resolute. Even after a quarter-century, I have no complaints. If only all connections were so consistently rewarding.
There were times, I confess, that I strayed. My head was turned by younger models. My mind was mesmerized by variations with curving lines and dazzling features, whispering tempting promises about ease of use and deeper satisfaction.
Briefly I succumbed to the lure of a bent-shaft number, which vowed a no-bend, back-easing experience. She failed to mention how awkward she was when the going got rough; her reluctance to easily toss each scoopful of snow.
Then came a newer version of your type, with her composite body and point-of-contact sharp edge. Alas, she proved unwilling to glide – as you effortlessly do – over cracks and bumps. Instead she jammed into each crevice, making mountains of molehills, reluctant to move on.
And so, each time, I returned to you. The youth, sleekness and features of the others were no match for your comfort and reliability. Indeed, you are a triumph of non-descript design. Like your summertime equivalent, the white plastic lawn chair, your style is unremarkable, yet you remain supremely serviceable – utilitarian in shape and unambiguous in intent. It is the stuff of a lasting relationship, a perfect marriage of form and function.
Yes, both of us show signs of age. My hair is gray and my face creased with lines. Your old-school wooden shaft is bent from years of strain, and no longer varnish-sleek. Your curved scooper is curling at its edge from countless encounters with cracked sidewalks and ice jams. These days, a neighbor-shared snowblower does most of the heavy lifting. But for lighter work, and the crannies and steps where the machine cannot tread, you soldier on.
So here we are, 25 years in, another winter upon us. In truth, I am not happy about the early squalls. But when, by necessity, I reached for you, there you stood. Silent. Stalwart. Uncomplaining. Ready, once again, to serve.