With my husband in England for over two weeks, I’ve been trying to keep all the men on my street from shoveling my walk, partly so they won’t wonder why Bob is such a brute as to leave his blind wife to do research. Truth be told, even when Bob’s home I’ve often shoveled, since I actually enjoy the exercise and find that there’s little I can do very well that shakes us the traditional gender roles. (I end up doing the cooking, laundry, most of the cleaning, while he does the garbage, yard, home repair and maintenance.) But shoveling is all tactile, unless, of course, you can see, and I enjoy the mechanical, methodical, organized motion of it. But I got to smiling the other night when I went out at 9:30 to shovel and get ahead of the storm. I imagined a few of my neighbors looking out their windows wondering what fool was trying to shovel so late at night?

It reminded me of the time I was weeding our front yard, also pretty tactile (though I occasionally weed a favorite perennial), listening to a Pirate game on my radio headset and heard some friends walking by. I popped up and said, “Hi,” and startled them into tripping.

“What are you doing out here in the pitch dark?”

My daughter and her husband and kids have been enjoying Philadelphia’s 22 inches of snow. My son-in-law, Jeremy, made a great snow cave for the kids, shoveled up and down their city sidewalk, and dug out both their cars. “I’ve been performing shovelry,” he said, once again delighting me with his way with words.

      • And I think the word is apt. The combination of qualities expected of an ideal medieval knight such as courage, honor, , courtesy, justice, and a readiness to help the weak. With those qualities in mind, I think the shovelric code is still thriving in Philadelphia and Marlborough Road. Thanks to the two valiant knights who stood ready to help and beat me to the sidewalk.



About Sally Hobart Alexander

Blinded at the age of twenty-six, I left California and elementary school teaching for life in Pittsburgh, Pa. There, I met my husband, got a Masters' degree in social work, had two kids, now 35 and 32, and became a writer. Surprisingly, the writing career led me full-circle to teaching, and I teach in Chatham University's M.F.A. program and lead two writing critique groups. Always, since the age of 26, I have traveled, not in the stereotypic darkness attributed to blindness, but a mist. My blog then, "traveling through the mist" will deal with issues in my culturally different life as a blind writer, teacher, speaker, and human being.
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