Friday Flash: Snow

Friday posts are part of an ongoing series of short nonfiction essays inspired by ordinary events. Each piece is an original, stand-alone essay of less than 500 words.

I step in frozen footsteps. Make my way past dry blacktop. Snow, loose powder, dances in the wind. I see the task at hand.

This early-morning winter ritual repeats. Shovel and clear. Go inside and work. Suit up again, and shovel more. Throw salt and get the kids. Shovel and repeat, over and again.

We clear 120 feet of driveway by hand, no snow-blower for us. We shake our fists at snow. Grit our teeth at blizzards. Double-layer extremities. Face sub-zero temperatures head-on. Shovel through a storm to keep up. Our snow-blowing neighbors? They wait it out. Polar vortex, my ass.

Farm ancestors whisper to me. Get on with it, they say. Go out and get it done.

I don’t really mind. It’s exercise. It’s meditative. When you finish, there’s something to show. You can measure your progress. Carve a neat, tidy path to shelter. Create crisp white edges that lead inside. That’s the image I have in mind. Makes me believe I can finish something.

Shoveling the walks and driveway is straightforward. But satisfaction is short-lived. City plows overturn what we just cleared. They wreck havoc on the order created. I hear them and stop my work. Listen as they go past. Look out my window. Shrug on my coat. Go back outside.

Begin at the foot of the driveway. Sweep the slush away.

Filed under: Writing

About the Author

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Ellen Fowler Hummel is a writer specializing in creative nonfiction and the occasional short story. She is co-founder and managing editor of, an online magazine featuring original nonfiction writing and photography.