Monday, February 5, 2018

Snow sketch


It snowed today.

I took a walk in it from a library to my car. Icy fractal flakes accumulated in my hair like swarms of creatures. The wind blew tufts of snow across the sidewalk in wiggling "S" formations, almost looking like snakes or some such biological entity. The gray concrete disappeared before my very eyes as the onslaught of the skies would not relent.

I love everything about winter. I am especially enamored with how snowfall can turn most any landscape pristine and new. I've spent a good deal of my life in urban, industrial tracts full of dirt and oil. After the snow however, covered in a white blanket, the world seemed cleansed.

It also seems alien. I thought so even as a child. We'd have a "snow day," I'd look outside, and see my formerly familiar environs transformed. I would be in a new world. I still feel this way when I take the dogs outside. My coat, my gloves, my boots, my mask, when you walk dogs, you can't skimp on cold weather gear. I feel like I'm suited up to survive a hostile environment. Like I'm on Mars. A white Mars.

Who am I kidding? Dogs or not, I would still stand out there and watch, especially at night. I love how the white of the snow reflects the ambient light and turns the night sky bright with a muted red. I'll watch snowflakes against a street light, looking like someone shook a snow globe. The wind hits and the white flakes scurry and surge in the gusts like silver tracer fire.

A less palatable feature of winter is driving in it. A fifteen minute drive turned into nearly an hour-long slog. Water freezes in drops to the windshield glass, looking like the divots on the sides of a six-sided die.

The clean blanket of snow won't last forever, either. Snowplows will spread salt and auto traffic will drag dirt, grease, and oil across the once pristine canvas. When I walk the sidewalks downtown tomorrow, the snow will have frozen into a treacherous black lacquer.

Maybe that's just my cynicism. That's me these days. I'm sure I come across as rather boring. If I'm not writing my book, then I'm thinking about it. One of my recent comments in my MFA program was: "I hope one day you'll turn your writing talents to something besides Saint Joseph's College."

Right now I can't. Even the snow reminds me of SJC. The campus looked beautiful green but it was equally picturesque once the snow cast its spell.

And I just miss it all the more.

We often associate snow or winter in general with a sense of desolation. Think of journeys to Antarctica, or Himalayan expeditions in search of the Abominable Snowman. All these are things to be "survived."

I understand it now, that feeling of being cast away, exiled to frozen, lunar wastes. Need to make camp. Maybe I can take a shot at crossing the ridge in the morning. Yes, maybe there are warmer, greener lands beyond the ice, the rock, the dark, and the cold. That might be too much effort for me, though. Once I'm in the cocoon of my sleeping bag, I might just stay in it.

I need a fire. Is there any dry wood to be found? Search as I might, I find none.

I may never be warm again.

I can still see home. Just as I remember it. Bathed in the sunlight of morning. Now alone and punished, unable to parse or cerebrate just what my crime was.

"February made me shiver, with every paper I'd deliver..."

Do I bore you? Oh I'd hate to bore you. That's just where I'm at, though. Been that way for exactly one year. I don't like it any more than you do.

Temperature keeps dropping.

Hounds howl in the wind.

"Out of my head as the winter marches on..."





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