Thursday, December 18, 2008

Early Winter Snow

It’s frustrating that I always feel at my most poetic on my walk home in the evenings (from the Wilson stop, no less). Strands of words fill my head, just right for describing the worlds around and within me, but I cannot get to a pen and paper (or computer) quickly enough to get them down. When I try to fit the pieces back together at home, they become all mismatched and stubborn.

It snowed two days ago. That crisp, white, fluffy kind that reminds you of your childhood: building snowmen in the yard, making snow angels, and sledding. When I was walking home with the snow falling all around me on Tuesday, I felt inspired, and the words were there. Since then, I’ve been trying to capture the mixture of giddiness and contentment I felt as I tromped through the snow that night, but the words that captured the moment so perfectly then have escaped me once again.

Odd, how something like snow can put all your pieces back together—even the ones you thought you’d forgotten. Maybe it’s not snow for some people. Maybe for normal people it’s a gorgeous, sunny-warm day. But for me it was snow this time. I knew I was on top of the world when I felt this inconsolable urge to do torjetes in the snow, because I associate very little unhappiness with ballet. I wish I had done them (though the combination of frozen muscles, lack of practice, and slick sidewalks may not have ended so gracefully.) So, there I was, smiling and stomping through the snow like a six-year-old, wanting to break out into dance, and thinking up these perfect strands of words in my head. My two greatest passions in this whole wide world had rushed into me at the sight and feel of snow.

And, yes, I know that many people hate snow. And it’s no fun when you have to drive in it (I am sorry for those of you who were stuck on the highways for six hours that night.) But I am relishing the first time in years that I don’t have to drive in it—all I have to do is play in it!

After two years in Knoxville, it sure feels good to be back in the Midwest where we get more than an inch of snowfall and most of us know how to drive in it. And, even better than being in the general Midwest, it’s amazing to be in Chicago at wintertime. Because when you’re downtown walking past the Macy’s window displays, or snaking through the Krist Kindl Markt, or rushing along beneath the strings of lights adorning Michigan Avenue, with snow falling on your head, it really feels like Christmas.

Before you get the idea that I’m a complete idealist, let me assure you that I don’t love the gray slush that follows the pristine snowfall. Today I sloshed to and from work looking at the gray mush piled up like dirty mashed potatoes along the sidewalk. It turns my stomach a little, and reveals the city’s pollutants in an unavoidable way. I realize that by February, the slush and ice and cold may be more than I can bear. But for now, I’m going to savor it just a little bit longer…