Classes were cancelled for the fourth time in Purdue history. Visibility was often at zero. Snow came down sometimes harder than one and a half inches an hour. Tippecanoe Street from St. Elizabeth Hospital to North Ninth found itself a convenient wind tunnel, and the snow on my front sidewalk was packed as hard by the force as if snow plows had crammed it there, even though they were too busy keeping main arterials open to bother hitting the neighborhoods. Winds blew 25-30 mph with frequent gusts of 40-45 mph.
Yet still we shoveled. Brave, foolish souls, we shoveled. Four inches, we shoveled. Ten inches, we shoveled. Yea, even unto seventeen inches we shoveled. But it kept blowing. And we broke our backs to dig out our cars, to tunnel tracks to the garbage cans and garages of greater Lafayette, to create passable passages to snow drifts. Like ants, we dug tracks to nowhere.
But we shoveled.
And after long, hot, lavender-scented showers, we eased our aching corpus to bed, to sleep from exhaustion. And we dreamed of nothing. Awaking early, we found the state still in a snow emergency, with blowing snow advisories; closed schools, libraries, businesses, roads; and drifts of snow where the night before there were small passageways to nowhere.
So we blogged.
And because we must teach, yea, because we must enlighten the noggens of the Boilermakers—and because they’ve got an exam on Friday and still need some crucial information on the problem of evil and the role of theodicy—we steeled ourselves to another morning of shoveling. The drifts were high, the wind chills low, the shoulders sore, the lumbar stiff. And we begruged the ownership of snowblowers by siblings in places where nary a blizzard shall peep. And we yearned for sleep. And we faced the howling gale with steely midwestern grit. And we shuddered at the very thought that we actually had steely midwestern grit. So we listened to DJ Tiesto to remind ourselves of better times, drier places—of frivolous times with no need for midwestern anything, let alone grit. And we shoveled.
And deep in our hearts, we dreamed. We dreamed of a day when nobody would need to shovel, yea, when all peoples, regardless of origin, would awaken to plowed and sanded sidewalks, to foaming cappuccinos and steaming scones, to busses running perfectly on time, and to showers always hot in bathrooms always sterile from mildew. Oh, we dreamed. And we shoveled a path to a future where such dreams may indeed be. Together, hours before we had to go to work, bundled to the point of irrecognizability, we, the huddled Hoosiers, shoveled our way to the unknown. To the hope of a warmer tomorrow.
Hallelujah, we shall overcome.