Rarely talked about, the residuum of melting snowbanks can reveal to you what is going on just down the road from your chosen spot on the jagged edge.
Frequent snowfalls in my neck of the woods cause the rumbling transitory snowplows to drop off a myriad of items in front of my house. Most of my debris comes from just south of here. Across the street, they would, I assume, gather up things from just north of their place.
It’s early in the season, but it’s clear that I am getting a headstart on a thirteen-gallon white plastic bag full of garbage. The first few plowings are the worst. It’s the initial once over by stalwart truckers of the local highway department. While the well-groomed happy travelers have moved along, they spent an entire tourist season looking to toss away a few things while en route to their next scenic vista or craft beer joint.
I am the recipient of plenty of paper coffee cups, a multitude of cigarette butts, and the occasional glove or mitten; they never come in pairs. I’ve found magazines, soda cans, and bungee cords too. A few pairs of old underwear were picked up with a sharp stick. I relish a free bungee cord. I have no need for previously worn undergarments. Obviously, I have something in common with the drawer droppers.
I rake the mess away throughout the winter during the occasional thaw. But I go hard at it in the spring as I am no hoarder of discarded goods.
I have noted that many cigarette butts—and coffee cups—have a hint of lipstick clinging to the business end of either item. One could make the assumption that ladies litter more than others. But men can wear lipstick, too. I don’t want to make ill-informed assumptions.
Lipstick—of course— needs to be a resilient accessory. I understand that. I also understand how the remains of cups and butts survive—intact— the snowy tumbler that precedes the curved front blades of a ten-ton dump truck. The centrifugal force probably allows some items to ride high on the snowy curl. What I can’t comprehend is how that same semi-frozen, gravel-filled, horizontal tornado doesn’t scrub them clean of the faint lipstick prints in shades of Flamenco Red and Bombshell Maroon. I digress.
This essay is about a card I received by the same delivery method. I was scraping up some icy leavings from the asphalt while trying to stay ahead of what could be a slippery three or four months. The card blew in from the road on a gentle puff of a westerly wind. The card was dry, but it clearly had suffered some damage through the tumultuous tumbling action of all pummeled parcel and passenger who are dropped— here— in my dooryard.
I caught a glimpse of the Hallmark crown on the back as it bounced past my stationary post while I leaned upon my shovel. The card was facing down when it safely stopped in the lee of the wind.
I bent over and picked it up; nosy is the former detective.
Multi-colored letters on a bright yellow card yelled out, “Amazing People Can Do Amazing Things!” It was clear the card was not meant for me. I think all people can do amazing things. But greeting cards wouldn’t sell all that well if they didn’t pump us up a bit. That is the point.
I found the internals of the card unsullied by pen or marker. The big finish—in black letters—was “Keep On Being The One And Only You.” The wind made it dance in my hand as I took a few minutes to ponder whom the card was meant to persuade. Out of character for me, I felt a sudden sadness that I had stopped it from traveling on to its intended destination. I considered throwing it back into the wind, near the road, to finish the course it had started. Could it have blown out of a bag before the purchaser had a chance to hand it to the one who needed it? Maybe it was just tossed aside.
Was I standing here with a runny nose while holding someone else’s former—future— vibrant buoyancy? Then, I saw the clear directions printed right on the back of the card. Sure, it’s a slogan, but someone took the time to add this line. Maybe they didn’t know it would be me who read it, but the least I could do was to give it a try.
“See What a Card Can Do.”
I’ve flattened the card the best that I can. I’ve used a Sharpie to inscribe it for the next, or last, recipient. I’ll keep it in my truck until I find the perfect spot to leave it.
There are a lot of folks who need to know they can do amazing things. The rest of us know—already—that they should keep on being “the one and only you.” Maybe, just maybe, no one has told them yet. Or, it could be, that they lost the card, or tossed the card, while trying.
I figure that the wind will remember where it was headed. Let’s see what a card can do.
That’s all I’ve got.