by Jesse Kaysen
It's been snowing since the middle of the night, and I'm on the "improving" slope of a remission. A lifetime spent in the northern climes prepares me for the joys of a brief walk in the snow. I swaddle myself warmly and comfortably - minimum two layers everywhere. Thank heavens for Polartec, the homeopathic weather fighter: fluffy and light.
At 11 a.m. the sky and the ground and the trees and the rooftops are every color white. Getting down my precipitous driveway is scary until I relearn the snow-shuffle, using my canes as balance points. At the street, I feel alarmingly tall - what a long way to fall. The wind sighs like the seals on a thousand refrigerator doors. Terrorist snow pellets sneak in to sting my face, uncaring, random. When I stop to raise my eyes to the horizon, I travel back to a time without artificial lighting. That mysterious fog has abandoned the 19th century etchings to erect barriers half a block away at every point of my compass.
Tinges of snow color every sight, bringing unity and grace to the accidental architecture of suburbia. Visual static spills over into the auditory, the street is calmed to hissing catatonia. Though level ground is almost automatic, every vertical shift requires planning. Is that foot secure? Will that cane slide when I swing through?
Ten minutes out, my feet begin to stray. The toes and heel and tender edges no longer recognize the cozy insides of my boots. The braid of ankle and knee and hip and shoulder is fraying: time to return. My bozo legs miss their yard-long orange shoes for the final ascent over the lawn. (They might have provided better traction.)
Inside again, I stomp five times and shed
the snow. I've draped my outer layers in the kitchen, which quickly fills
with a vapor familiar from tents and apartments and warming shelters and
houses. I've time travelled by foot back to steam radiators and glass entryways,
steaming subway tunnels and frozen lonely bus stops, the searing desert
of forty below and the cheerful mud soup of April.
Copyright 1997 by Jesse Kaysen. Jesse Kaysen is a freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin, who can be contacted at email@example.com
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