Outside my front door almost eighteen inches of white chilly dust quilts everything. Car, bushes, porch roof, trash barrels, sidewalk all wear a parka-coated white through which humps and twigs loom or stab, grasping toward the sun. Good luck with that ; the sun wears a shawl of haze, a lace of cloud ice. Tomorrow, maybe, it will shine; today it sports a drowsy eyelid. A half-asleep sun can’t do its job. The temperature as I write sits at 8 degrees of F. At wake-up time it was 4. But that means there’s no melt, none at all. The snow is dry, as sere as a corpse’s spit. I broomed it off, whisk — whoosh — see-ya !
Then the car. That wasn’t as 1-2-3. Last night’s defroster ice bonded to the windshield epoxy-like; it clung to the driver’s side door like a tic. I had to enter from the passenger side — that door not having opened during last night’s drive, no ice crept into its lock — slide across to the driver seat and with shoulder, shove the door open — wham ! It opened, all right — with a crack. Had my shove ripped the door frame from its seams ? With fingers frozen stiff I stumbled the key into the ignition, wanked it with my knuckles, pumped the pedal — the engine turned over, faithful horse that it is. Was there enough antifreeze, or would the block crack ? On mornings like this I ask that question. They don’t happen every year even here on the coast just northeast of Boston, but at 7 AM it’s too late to wish that I had checked the coolant yester-eve. I am in luck. The engine warms up smoothly. Eight minutes and the defroster is melting the windscreen ice. My hands, too.
Five more minutes of melt, and I can see the driveway and the street. Off I go. Easy on the pedal, steady, out the driveway, onto the street — nobody’s coming, nobody at all, there’s not a car anywhere but mine. It’s the kind of selfie that I like. An honest street on an honest day.
Out onto the expanse of road my horse purrs. Piles of snow dust flank the wide street. The plows guys have earned their overtime pay, the main roads are clear as a gallop. To the nearest Starbucks I go, here to assuage my latte addiction, eat a walnut muffin, and write the story that you are reading now.
It’s one helluva winter morning in coastal Massachusetts. Cold and snow, snow and cold. There isn’t even one boat on the harbor, only unused mooring sticks. But the sun is riffling the bay surface into chips of foam, the nor’west wind catches them and rolls the foam up like an ice quiche. Somebody ought to run a trawl right now. When i was a young’un, we’d do just that : run a few traps for lobster — January lobsters are hard-shell like you wouldn’t believe, full of meat and chewy. And fish ? Under surface water this cold entire flocks of fish come out and party like ravers. But I see no trawler, no tuna boat, no lobster dory. Just water wind and haze of sun. It’s a quiet thing, is cold. Not a sound. Dust of snow too has no voice.
But I do.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere