The knock at the kitchen door startled me with its authoritativeness. I donâ€™t usually invite kitchen door visitors, as I prefer guests use the front door. I know, I know, most people like the â€œinformal feelâ€ of kitchen door use, but not me. The kitchen is a place for family. You know, those blood relatives who donâ€™t mind the user-friendly clutter of the garage or the mini Mt. Everest-sized stack of shoes and boots by the door? The front door is the neat and tidy door. The front door is where I can fake order and control for small spans of time.
Nonetheless, a knock was heard, and I went to answer. The man standing on the other side seemed surprised when I opened the door. Really surprised. He stood staring at me, and me at him. I had no clue who he was until he uttered these words, â€œWhereâ€™s your propane tank?â€
Now, totally confused, I said, â€œWhere it has always been?â€ The question in my voice was real. Was he a newby and clueless? Had someone absconded with our tank? And why the heck did he use the kitchen door?
The man sighed. â€œIâ€™m here to fill your tank, but thereâ€™s no way I can get to it with all the snow. Youâ€™re supposed to keep a path open for me.â€
Like a sliver of sunlight illuminating the darkness, it dawned on me that our recent snowstorm meant huge snow banks. Huge snow banks that totally cut off access to our propane tank. Ohhhhhhh. I walked outside with the man and we both gazed at the problem.
â€œIâ€™m vertically challenged,â€ he said. â€œIf I try to carry the heavy hose over those banks I wonâ€™t make it. Youâ€™re going to have to come and get me.â€ My shoulders slumped.
â€œI know about vertically challenged,â€ I said. Why donâ€™t you come back in a couple of days and my husband and I will have a path made.â€ I didnâ€™t know what else to say. He left a little too cheerfully.
I explained the situation to my husband. He wasnâ€™t impressed with the driverâ€™s lack of gumption. The fact that weâ€™ve lived in this house for thirteen years and have never, ever, had to make a path to the propane tank wasnâ€™t helping. Nor was the fact that propane has taken on astronomical prices of late. The unspoken thought…with those prices he can dang well work to get to the tank. 🙂
We discussed how we might attack the snow bank, but neither of us saw it as an easy task. Our tools consisted of assorted shovels, an ice pick thingy, and a snowblower. Oh, and the outside temperature was to reach a high of -2. Yea.
We layered up our attire and waddled out to the offending snow bank. We kicked the hardened snow, looked up and down, groused a bit, and dug in. What ultimately worked was having me on the bank above my husband chopping downwards with a thingy (shovel-like handle, rectangle-like blade on end) meant to clear ice off sidewalks. As I loosened pieces my husband scooped the snow chunks and hauled them elsewhere.
We were doing surprisingly well. Our goal was to hack a hole through the bank wide enough to accommodate the snowblower. If the snow behind the bank wasnâ€™t too hard, we could finish the path to the propane tank by blowing it away.
Just as I reached the summit I proudly declared we would soon be on the downhill stretch. You know that saying about pride going before the _________?
One second my husband was looking at me, and the next I let out a squeak and disappeared. I slid down the backside of the bank and landed in deep soft snow.
â€œAre you okay?â€ My husband tried to sound concerned as he laughed. his. butt. off.
I couldnâ€™t seem to find solid ground and flailed. My boots filled with snow, my mittens came off, and my winter cap fell forward over my eyes. I spitted and sputtered and said I was fine.
After what seemed like minutes, I gathered myself and tried to climb back over the bank. I was primordial man rising from the muck of the ocean. I was a child trying her first steps. I was pathetic.
â€œOkay,â€ I said as I readjusted my cap. â€œJust maybe the gas man had a point about needing a path to the propane tank. But heâ€™d better not come to my kitchen door again.â€
Musings about aging «