You’ve heard it, right? Echoing down the chilly streets. Bouncing off the backyard fences. The chipping? The ceaseless staccato hammering? That frosty Mother Nature has left us no choice.
The ice must go.
What ice? The ice, crusty and thick, sealing our sidewalks away from the rubbery soles of our boots. Speed-bumping the ends of our driveways. Transforming our front steps into terrifying, dilapidated luge tracks. It appeared this month, through the dark alchemy of the snow and the rain. It appeared in the street outside, jagged and thinking evil thoughts. It’s been waiting for us to work up the gumption. Waiting for us to take action. It whispered to us in the dead of night.
A few weeks of warm temperatures have drawn lines in the ice. Fissures have formed – cracks in the armor – and something has clicked deep within our brains. Now, we think. Now we’re gonna smash that ice.
We step outside and consider the plastic snow shovel we bought from the grocery store. But we’re not going to make that mistake. Not again.
Instead, we take to the garage and retrieve our weapon of choice – that big, long ice chipper thingy we bought on sale at Target last year. We found it right next to the rock salt. Gleaming. Where our plastic snow shovels have failed, this will succeed. A few mighty jabs with our mighty ice chipper thingy will take care of the cursed ice, we think. This might even be fun.
For underneath the heavy snow, the ice draws into itself, sucking in The Cold like a black hole. All the stuff we all complain about? The freezing air? The constant, unshakable chill of the Wisconsin winter? This is supper to the ice. Make no mistake, my friend, the ice is doing something.
It’s getting harder.
But we are idiots. Did we really think the ice would yield without a fight? Insanity! Oh sure, we get a few good thwacks in, and ice chips fly through the air. Gloriously. In slow motion. Soon, we think, the driveway will be free of its wintertime fortress. And so, confident in our strength and skill, we raise up our fearsome ice chipper thingies to bring them roaring down.
And that’s when things get real.
It’s a funny thing, ice. It’s just water that got real cold one day and ... stopped moving. It just sits there all winter long, doing nothing. It’s lazy, right?
Wrong, dummy. For underneath the heavy snow, the ice draws into itself, sucking in The Cold like a black hole. All the stuff we all complain about? The freezing air? The constant, unshakable chill of the Wisconsin winter? This is supper to the ice. Make no mistake, my friend, the ice is doing something.
It’s getting harder.
So, confident in our strength and skill, we raise up our fearsome ice chipper thingies to bring them roaring down upon the ice, assuming – nay – knowing it will simply shatter beneath the fabulous force of our impressive whomp. But it doesn’t.
Our blades connect with the ice only to bounce back, the tremendous energy of our whomp recoiling back up the shaft into our hands, up our arms and into our shoulders.
And it hurts. Oh. It hurts so bad.
The ice says nothing. It smiles and waits for us to try again. So we try. Over and over we try, sending blow after glancing blow into the ice, taking off tiny chunks here and there, but nothing of consequence. It sickens the soul! The worst, thickest, most obnoxious ice lives at the end of the driveway, having absorbed the weight of our cars for months, getting harder and harder until it’s bulletproof. And yet we go at it, blunting our chipper thingy’s not-so-mighty blade until we throw it aside, drop to our knees, and pound against the ice with our bare fists. We slump down on top of it, weeping.
I’m still here, it murmurs into our naked ears. Maybe some salt will help.
An icy cackle echoes through the neighborhood.