A walk downtown after a blizzard

For nine days I was “single-daddin'” it (to turn a noun into a verb) while my wife was picking up our new daughter in Africa. One evening, while my mother-in-law was here to help, I took a break for a couple hours in the evening to walk downtown with my book. A terrible snow-storm had just struck the day before, but then it had briefly thawed and rained for a few hours before freezing again, making for a very unusual shell of sorts on top of the snow. The following is nothing more really than an exercise to write about my walk. I liked a few parts of it though, so I figured I should post it.

The crusted snow covering everything reflects in an impossible fashion, like a bad bump map seen by an early raytracer in the mid nineties. (Would you know what either of those things are if you don’t work in 3D graphics software?) That must be like an artist talking about faded paint and how the colors just don’t look the same since everyone started using those damn curly lightbulbs.

The ice is hard and shimmering, but breaks easily under foot, glove, and especially tire. I’ve helped push two cars out of the snow while on the short walk downtown. We are far enough north that chains offer freedom rather than slavery.

I went looking for a quiet place to read and think and perhaps have a drink. The quiet bar just lost it’s liquor license, so apparently I’ll be drinking water – in a Tom Collins glass, on ice, with a twist of lemon. It just goes to show that presentation is half the story – in more than just cocktails. The snow is treacherous, but beautiful. It also has two stories.

The man at the next table tells a story, revealing himself to be a logger, and the son of a logger no less. He looks the part. He says “God Damn” every other sentence. His friend is a trucker. His choice filler is “fuckin'”. they’ve spent the whole time discussing heavy equipment and engine maintenance. So like men! The ones with Ph.Ds discuss rocket engines, but the conversation is identical.

The crawfish soup is dressed up with tails this time. The cook asks how it is since he usually pulls apart just the meat. I tell him it certainly LOOKS more interesting, but should perhaps come with a crunchy cautionary from the waiter. Agreement ensues.

A couple of girls walk by, on their way to the club. They wear heavy coats but shorts so small they could double as undergarments. If you got to know that girl, what sort of wife and mother would she make? Could it be any more obvious that she expects no one to ask that question? Where she is going, the men aren’t going to ask either. Instead, they could go to certain churches where everyone is asking – but the shorts are a turn-off there, but so is the coat.

Thursday is often a slow night, but not with thousands of college students who have just been informed that class is cancelled tomorrow due to the bad weather. Still, there is one guy studying Latin at the next table. He looks up as the two clubbing girls walk past, then back down.

Another couple is talking about the wild and strange surface of the snow again. Both wish they had their cameras with them. Who knows when it will ever look like this again?

It’s getting to be late January and the Christmas lights are waning here. Some are still up, but off. In Ethiopia today, it’s Epiphany. Flags line the street as their Christmas goes out with a bang. We front-load ours with so much noise and gift-giving that when Christ is finally born it’s too loud to hear him crying in the cradle.