Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dog Watch

Heavy jeans? Check. Hooded sweatshirt and wool cap? Check. Two pairs of socks, foulie bottoms and boots? Check. North Face jacket? (After 30 years this is still the warmest coat I own, battery acid scars and all.) Check. Gloves? Check. One would think I was gearing up to stand a dog watch in a Force 8 blow in the North Atlantic. I wish I was gearing up to stand to the dog watch in a Force 8 blow. Sadly, all I need to do is walk to the store a few blocks away to get some fabric softener, normally just a quick jog. But last night some 9 inches of snow fell on St. Louis and the temperature is in a steady decline toward single digits. That kind of cold makes it tempting to take the car, carbon footprint be damned! This is the city though, so as usual nothing gets plowed but the main streets, the closest one to us being most of a block away...uphill. The Saturn is pinned against the curb and the Z? It can't even get out of the garage without some serious snow shoveling. (The ally won't get plowed either.)

Now I admit that a lack of fabric softener wouldn't normally be enough of a crisis to warrant gearing up to this extent. Truth is I've been spending too much time indoors, and way, way too much time in the same zip code. Any excuse to move for any reason is a good excuse. (Actually, I think Deb made up the need for fabric softener just to get me out from underfoot for a while. Can't say as I blame her. When I get restless like this I wouldn't put up with me either, except I'm attached.) Its going to be cold out there and at least half the walk will be nose into the light winds. "Bundle up" is the phrase of the day.

My boots kick up a cloud of ice crystals with each step. The city sounds are muted by layers of snow blanking each inch of ground, every fence and tree limb. Even the city buses pass by with not much more than a whisper. One couple I pass is walking a tiny, little white fur-dog. When it jumps off the path it simply disappears, its leash just sticking out of the snow. Here and there people are shoveling paths from their car out to the squished, packed snow in the middle of the street. (Good luck with that.)

Its a right turn from the Wall Mart back to the house. I turn left adding many more blocks to my walk. The wind is cold but fading, the sky slowly clearing. Each passing band of sunlight sets the snow cover to sparkling with a zillion tiny bursts of dazzle. I stop to watch and can't help but think, "This is a seriously beautiful day."

It is a different kind of beautiful than is hanging off a hook in Hoffman Cay, sunshine and clear water and empty, perfect beeches. It is a different kind of beautiful than sinking through a solid overcast, picking up the approach lights at the last minute and slipping onto a wet runway with nary a bump. In spite of the long winter, in spite of the weeks it has been since I last set foot on Nomad, this day, here, far from the ocean, blanketed in snow, is insisting on being a near perfect day. All it needs is a fire in the fireplace, and I'm going to do that next.

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