Scenes: The Red Shovel


“Mom can I go outside and play?” Big E asks.


“Yes! Of course,” I reply as the dish I’m washing falls from my hands like a hot a potato. It’s been hard to get my little homebody outside to play. I can’t say as I blame him, considering the past couple of days have been as cold as the Arctic. With weathermen warning that extreme exposure could make your face freeze off in less than a minute.


But today it was nice. The sun was shining the temperature a balmy 30 degrees, it was a veritable heat wave for Iowa.


I’d been trying for hours to get Big E to play outside, but of course the more I pushed the less enticing my request became.


Finally, I had stopped asking {nagging} and he willingly decided to go.


I was so excited my hands were shaking as we gathered all the winter accoutromone that accompanies an Iowa outdoor excursion in February.


Clunky snow boots, brightly colored gloves and hat, puffy snow pants, a cozy winter coat and the red snow shovel.


The damn red shovel.


Each winter we dive into the depths of the shed looking for it, finding it buried under winterized flower pots and bags of unused mulch.


It’s not much to look at. Constructed from cheap plastic that was made for scooping fake movie snow not the tough, brittle snow of Iowa.


Because of this we’ve had many red shovels find their way to the shovel graveyard. The space is filled with broken scoops, snapped handles and a lone wooden stick that once donned a bright red scoop.


“Can’t we just throw these away?” I plead with the boys.


“No mom we need them,” they reply. “We won’t be able to build without them.”


So there they sit.


Why are the boys so attached to this damn shovel?


It’s ironic considering they hate to actually shovel. I’ve tried numerous times to get them to use their red shovel to clear the driveway. They vehemently decline, opting instead to move small bits of snow from one place in the yard to another. Their plan of attack firmly locked in their brains.


I imagine their little minds dreaming of pretend scenerios in which they are moving mountains and creating castles. Any obstacle that dare block their progress is quickly disseminated by the red shovel’s power.


In reality, they are simply removing bits of snow from the yard. Revealing small grassy patches that otherwise would have stayed buried till May under a thick blanket of graying snow.


They are unfazed by the struggle of lifting each scoopful of snow. The large drifts scattering the yard don’t intimidate them in the least. Even when shoveling the driveway would have been much easier.


Instead of choosing the easy way, they chose their own way. No matter how difficult.


Eventually, I peek my head out the door hollering into the crisp air, “How’s it going? Ready to come in yet?”


“Good mom. Can I have a couple more minutes?” He replies with rosy cheeks and bright eyes.


He’s creating, working and having fun. Even in the face of a cold so bitter it freezes your eyeballs and nose hairs.


I admire his tenacity. They have no inner voice telling them “They can’t” or “That won’t work”.


All he has is that damn red shovel and the willingness to try.


Maybe it’s time for me to buy my own red shovel.

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