inter is over and it's time to pack away the shovels, down jackets, insulated boots and mittens until next year. The changing seasons teach different lessons and, this winter, I was reminded of a great truth about life. It goes something like this: There is a right way and a wrong way to shovel snow.
Perhaps you saw the headlines about the massive storms that hit the nation's capital, this past winter. Right after everyone calmed down from the Y2K scare, we were reminded that there are other ways to bring an entire region to a screeching halt.
Or, perhaps you had to dig your way out of record-breaking drifts in some other corner of the country, this year. Or perhaps you live someplace where it's normal to see several feet of snow. Perhaps you're a pro.
I grew up on the Texas Gulf Coast, which is hardly a great place to learn how to handle snow. We were masters of mosquito control.
But, after college, I found myself in the frozen Midwest, where shoveling snow is an art -- right up there with boiling corn and planning tailgate parties. The snow started about Thanksgiving and, before long, I realized that it wasn't going away on its own.
Several weeks, and several backaches later, I started watching the local talent. This is when it hit me: I was not the first person in the history of the world to shovel snow. I didn't have to reinvent the wheel. There I was, a youngster, slumping to the side of the path in exhaustion while gray- haired neighbors soldiered on.
What did they know that I didn't know? Well, yes, there were different kinds of shovels and different kinds of techniques and some folks were more doctrinaire than others. But there were common themes, such as bending your knees, not getting the shovel TOO full and never flinging the snow into the wind. There was a right way and wrong way to face this challenge and, I decided, only a fool would go it alone.
Eventually, I humbled myself and started asking questions. The elders took me in, showed me the ropes and handed down what they had learned -- a kind of oral snow-shoveling Tradition.