This past week, a small Nor'easter blew through. The mixture of icy rain and heavy snow produced a thick layer of ice on my driveway that I had to pick apart. The ice was quite hard and thick, and with the vicious cycle of thaw-then-freeze, I was picking at the ice all week. I used a heavier and older garden shovel. It has a solid steel blade, and its true purpose is for moving soil. (My snow shovels are all plastic.) I worked the ice by reversing the blade, and driving it into the ice, breaking the ice apart. The weight and the blade make for a great ice breaker.
One night, after dinner, after another session of ice picking, I began to feel a small sharp pain in my right hand. When I turned it over, I saw it. Somehow, while working the old shovel, I managed to get a small splinter in my right hand. My gloves didn't prevent the splinter from piercing me. It was a burr, no larger than a thorn of a small rose. It was in the fleshy part of my palm, under my thumb. It seemed to get more painful now that I knew what it was.
We have a first aid kit, and I found some plastic tweezers inside it. I worked without glasses, wishing that we had one of those magnifying monocles. I couldn't get it out, despite my careful work. If I pinched the area where the splinter was, I saw that I might be able to get it, but I'd need a third hand. Would I have to peel back my skin, like an onion, to get at this sliver of shovel wood?
I went to Jenn, and told her my woe. She was in bed, reading. (She goes to bed earlier than I do, so I was glad she was still up.) She took my hand, saw my splinter, made a face, looked at my plastic tweezers, and said "get the ones that I use." I fetched hers, and gave it to her. She pulled my hand close to her face, and she worked the wound.
I remember that she had picked out a splinter from our daughter's hand one summer. Mia was crying, no doubt from this new feeling of pain, but Jenn was gentle. I felt like Mia just then. Minus the crying.
Jenn peeled back a bit of the flesh, which stung a bit. Then she squeezed the tweezers, trying to clasp the splinter. She got it out in a few tries. My hand felt immediately better. Funny how a foreign object in your body makes you uncomfortable.
"Go wash your hands," Jenn said. I kissed her goodnight again. "Thank you," I said.