Digging out from Nemo, I learned a few things. Sometimes a curve ball can be just what we need. I know - the loss of productivity and earnings, not to mention the tragic, unintelligible deaths and damaged property, makes it hard to see it as an overall benefit to society, but on another level, think of all the down time, the self-assessment, the rapprochement of family members who live separate lives in the same space, all the incalculable benefits of having to weather a storm. Yesterday, after enough snow had been dug out that we could safely take some time for ourselves, my wife and I went on a walk on a loop we occasionally take that goes past some old farms and some woods on the edge of town. We went past a woman's house, an acquaintance of my wife's that she talks about from time to time and someone I have never met. She was doing some digging herself around by the garage and front door, trying to clear enough space so she could get the car out. She's in her eighties, and so my wife stopped to chat and took the shovel out of her hand and handed it to me while the woman put up some mild squawks of protest. Okay, I finished the job for her while the women made small talk and it made me feel useful in a way I would never have had the chance to feel if not for Nemo. Then we continued on our way up the hill into the woods where the trees provided a little shelter from the wind. The rest of the walk went by in a blur, thinking of all the things affecting our lives at the moment - all the particular junctions that we face individually and together and that constantly make up the bulk of our conversation as we try to sail our ship along as husband and wife and parents. We didn't do much talking, but it was a pleasant blur, and definitely one in the win column for me.