January 17, 2008
Yesterday I was up against it. I had go to outside, even though the weather forecast for the immediate area gave the chance of a temperature above 18° as slim to none.
It's my second winter in Hoboken and I've been trying to acclimate. Nineteen years of living back in Lower Alabama (aka L.A.) had dimmed my memories of having to wear long underwear, layers of sweaters, a coat, boots, mittens, a hat over my ears and a woolen scarf every day for about three months. In Fairhope, winter doesn't arrive until late January, and it usually consists of a few nights when the temperature goes below freezing and a few days when the highest the temp goes is up to the 40's. A real "cold wave" can last as long as a week, but it will be followed by afternoons when a cardigan is sufficient.
I had forgotten how beautiful snow is. When it snows, it's nothing like rain. I observe it like an enchanted infant. Falling snow is gentle, as if choreographed to float on light, freezing breezes sinking to coat the surroundings in something like 7-minute frosting. But when it melts in patches, as it usually does, and the air is cold enough to freeze the puddles, it is no fun at all. You are forced to walk with extreme care while dressed like an overstuffed mattress, and the beauty and elegance of the new-fallen snow is soon forgotten.
But yesterday I had to be across town, and downtown from 9th to 1st--which means a mile from my apartment--and I had to walk three and a half blocks to wait for either a bus or a taxi. Accustomed as I am to walking everywhere now, that three blocks in 18° is nonetheless daunting. But sometimes it must be done. I had had all week, watching the weather channel and hoping to no avail that the forecast would change, to steel myself for the inevitable.
I layered the requisite number of apparel items and set out to brave the outdoors. I had walked two blocks before I said to myself (prematurely) "This isn't so bad. This isn't bad at all." There was a longer wait than I had hoped at the bus stop for either bus or taxi. It seemed like about 45 minutes but was probably about 10 before a cab showed up and whisked me, all thawed out, to my destination.
The mission accomplished, getting home was more difficult. I saw no cabs on River Street, so I headed back to Washington via 4th. There is this block as you near Hudson where the wind comes out of nowhere from the west--Jersey City, no doubt--and as this wind hit me inner commentator said, "Wind chill factor of minus five. Well, now you know what minus five feels like." I put my bemittened hand on my knit cap, because with arms full of packages and hands covered with mittens, I didn't want to have to chase it down the block to God knows where in that weather.
Lo and behold, my bank is on the corner of Washington and 4th, so I ducked in there to warm up. Oddly, I saw no taxis and two buses had passed just as I rounded the corner. Never mind that I would only ride three blocks, when a bus finally came I got on and rode three blocks. I'm old, it's cold, and I deserve it--and it only costs 65 cents at my age. Three blocks in a warm and cheery bus was long enough to unfreeze me again and get me ready for the three-block walk back home.
Toasty-warm at last, I'm sitting here at the keyboard looking forward to what I know will be a jumpstart for the spring thaw. I leave Newark Liberty Airport Monday at 11 A.M. for a week Lower Alabama. I just hope there are no flocks of birds who have the same idea.