Smells Like Vanilla

“Struck brightly by the winter, when the snow falls thick and silent, I can only hear you breathing.” ~Matt Pond PA

I miss the smell of freshly fallen snow. When we were kids I used to dive into it, just lie there all clean, just waiting to get washed in white. It wasn’t about the snow angels, or about the snowmen, or even about catching snow on my tongue, even though I did all of those things. It was just about the symbiotic relationship. I fed off the snow, and it off me, as I carved out a spot in its purity for my incomplete self.

It didn’t matter that my coats were often ratty and full of holes. It made no difference that on my block the snow was mostly black instead of white, with car exhausts wreaking havoc almost before it had even landed. I would always find a patch on the postage stamp-sized front lawn and turn it into my utopia. I would lie there with my face turned sideways, my lips nearly blue, smelling that vanilla goodness. I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

I closed my eyes and pretended it was heaven.

Sam

Advertisements

Whiteout

Shoop, shoop, shoop. This guy jogged past me at a steady clip, breathing steady, smooth on his feet. I trudged like a turtle. Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop. I waved to him as he passed me heading south on a two way road devoid of traffic. It was just me and him, and the contrasts really couldn’t have been any clearer. He waved back and continued on his way. Approximately 10 minutes later he passed me again, going the opposite direction. This time I threw a few words his way. “I wish I had your stamina,” I said, and then he was gone again.

I continued trudging through the knee deep snow, head down, intent on my destination. Clip. Clop. Clip. Clop.

wp-1489532906540.jpgHonestly, I should have been driving, but I abandoned my car back in the village. It couldn’t make it up the mini-hill, despite the snow tires, despite the 4-wheel drive. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I left it in the village because I didn’t trust that I wouldn’t run off the road if I continued, even if I did manage to make it up the mini-hill. So I began to walk. In my bright orange coat I knew I made a big enough target for possible approaching motorists, so I wasn’t too worried about getting run over. I began to walk.

Truth be told, the trip from the village to the house here is only about 2/3rds of a mile, but through knee deep snow, with constant snow still falling steadily from above, it might as well have been 10 miles. That jogger who passed me twice — I have no idea why he was out there, or how crazy he really is, but that man is my hero. Perhaps he was training for some kind of marathon, but in this weather, with these blizzard-like conditions, I wouldn’t have left the house if I didn’t have to work.

But yeah, back to the driving portion of the journey. I left work early after my wife called, upset that I was still there when the snow was coming down like this, while the Snowpocalypse was reaching epic heights without a plow in sight. So many businesses were closed, so many schools shuttered for the day, but at Target we soldier on. I didn’t want to be a soldier, but I got there before the storm began. Boots on the ground. Literal boots.

As the day wore on, though, the snow didn’t stop, the emergency vehicles were loud outside the doors, and the anxiety level of loved ones at home reached a fever pitch. So I left early, even though I almost never leave early, knowing that the journey would be a treacherous one, and wanting to start it before it turned the corner into impossible. I left nearly two hours early, and just in time. When I reached my car in the parking lot it was piled high with thick snow, not the fluffy, pretty kind, but the heavy wet stuff that causes accidents. I brushed it off and said a prayer that I would make it back here safely.

wp-1489532847131.jpg

I’m not a fan of snow adventures. On my drive back there was no lack of adventure. I saw no fewer than 10 cars in various ditches along the way, often paired with tow trucks and police vehicles, but just as often on their own, having just gone down. Hazard lights were everywhere, but it was hard to see the lines beneath all the snow. Plows were nowhere to be seen — odd, but not too shocking. But with the sheer volume of snow I would have expected more of a presence from the large vehicles. Without them around I kept it under 20 miles an hour.

About a 3rd of the way back here my windshield wipers inexplicably stopped working, something that has never happened before. With the amount of snow from Snowmageddon coming down it quickly became difficult to see out of the front glass, so I improvised. I grabbed my snow brush from the passenger side footwell, slipped on one glove (Michael Jackson-style), opened my window, and began brushing the snow off while driving even more slowly. Cars passed me in waves, some of which ended up in the various ditches, but I soldiered on.

A trip that normally takes me 1/2 an hour stretched on to over 2 as one by one issues came up to impede my progress, but I never stopped for long. I toughed it out, freezing my arm off holding out that snow brush, my hazard lights on, waving others past like a traffic attendant, until I could go no further. Then I started walking. Because I was close enough to sense the finish line. Even if I couldn’t see it through the rapidly falling snow. That’s still coming down in layers.

Sam

Death of a Snowman

image

He lingered a beat too long
Lured in by the promise of more
Hat lost in the oncoming drifts
Buttons punctuating the silence
Plinking one by one onto white
Then covered in impending doom
He stands, poised and stately
Awaiting disintegration
With unintended grace.

Sam

Snow Tired

snowstormPlease, allow me to vent for a moment. Now, I’m usually the guy who makes fun of others for getting all worked up over weather, so what happened today was a righteous comeuppance. It doesn’t mean I liked it, but it was definitely righteous. To truly explain I need to take you back to just over two years ago.

It was one of those rare times when I was alone at home, while my wife and kids were in Utica. We were supposed to meet at Applebees for lunch. It had been snowing steadily all morning, but it hadn’t really accumulated on the roads, so it lulled me into a false sense of security. And I was hungry for a Cowboy (Veggie) Burger.

Everything started off well, with my iPod plugged in and playing Guns ‘n Roses. The car handled well on the road, and I was well on my way… until I ran into the drifts. There’s a stretch of road where the winds are strong and they drive the snow over the road in drifts, but I was going along so well that I forgot the drifts were there. Then I was skidding, sliding across the opposite lane in what seemed like slow motion.

I ended up in a ditch that day, but I got lucky that it was shallow enough that the car didn’t turn all the way over, preferring instead to rest on its side. Several good samaritans came to my aid also, helping me out of the car and giving me someplace to rest while I waited for the tow truck, for the police, and for my wife. But since that day anytime the winds pick up in winter I get anxious. Continue reading “Snow Tired”

So This is Global Warming?

c066cf50b9341700480f6a7067004767
Bundle up.

Remember global warming? It was a hot-button term at the beginning of the 21st century. As our illustrious former vice president said, “It’s a certain truth. But it’s an inconvenient truth.” And yet since then we’ve recorded some of the harshest, coldest temperatures in this world’s history. In fact, today my children were home from school for a “snow” day, even though it wasn’t snowing. It was really a “frigid temperature” day, which was funny because yesterday it got up to 45 here in upstate New York. And isn’t that really the gist of the whole “global warming” issue, the idea of a global shifting of climate. Climate change, now that’s a phrase I can get on board with, but is it new?

When I was a kid growing up in Philadelphia I clearly recall a rough winter when it snowed more days than it didn’t, and during one stretch of time it didn’t stop snowing for three days straight, at the end of which we had over six feet of snow. And like good neighbors we made sure to dig out, at least to the sidewalk. There were these six foot walls of snow on either side, like we were rats in a huge, white maze. I was fascinated by it, sticking my hand out at one point while following my father, who was digging with the shovel, and touching one of the walls. My hand sunk in a little bit and was quickly covered in snow. I screamed and my dad turned around to laugh at me. I yanked my hand out of the snow and some of the wall crumbled at my feet. That was the end of that exploration.

Then, about fifteen years later, I went to New York City with a few friends of mine in order to party with another friend who lived in a dorm at NYU. We took the train in like we always did, but it was the time before instant notices ahead of time about weather situations. We knew a storm was supposed to come, but we didn’t realize it would be the blizzard of the decade, which it turned out to be. Continue reading “So This is Global Warming?”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: