Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Winter Mind

Last night, my roommate came home from class and made a remark about hating the cold so much, and set to wondering why we live up here in the frigid north. Coming from Buffalo, I've heard these sorts of remarks a lot. My brother moved to southern California about a month ago. My mom habitually calls me to yell about the weather and proclaim her intention of moving to San Diego when she's not taking care of Grandpa anymore. Fair enough, I guess. Maybe I'm a genetic sport (well, I'm pretty sure I am), but I don't actually mind this.

This morning, I woke up to the boy cat curled up at my belly, and with much difficulty made my way from under the covers. Since the windows were pretty frosted over, I figured that I might need to do my 'progressive breakfast gathering' venture. That is, I still take my walk in, but with a few stops along the way to warm myself up a bit. My first stop was at Case Bakery, where I got a cup of coffee and chatted for a bit with the girl at the counter. We talked about bakers' hours and what dictates them, about the cold, about walking vs driving in this weather. Out the door and on the way. It being as cold as it was out (in the teens), my coffee got cold awfully quickly. I tossed what was left (after all, who wants to drink iced coffee in frigid weather?) in the trash and continued along. At about Highland and Central, I saw one of my morning acquaintances, a Moroccan gentleman, who earlier this fall was bemoaning the impending cold weather. He was either grimacing in pain or had a big grin on his face; I honestly couldn't tell. After I yelled at him for a.) not wearing a hat or gloves, b.) having his coat wide open, he just responded that I loved this. I revelled in it. Actually, I do.

Highland and School is where I made my second stop: Ali was shivering like a sad pigeon at his register, cursing the snap. I think I must have been bouncing around too much while getting my banana and yogurt, because he told me to calm down and act like a normal frozen person. I laughed and reminded him that starting tomorrow, the days would start getting longer again. No good: it's still the coldest and slowest-moving of the seasons for him. Myself, I think he should go back to Egypt in the winter instead of the summer, thereby avoiding the misery this place can hold for a person born in the desert.

I the fact that I live in what I call the "Rome of Boston" (as Somerville was built on seven hills, you know), and can tell people that I walk uphill and downhill three times each way on my walks to and from work. Prospect Hill, I think, is the toughest to navigate in winter, as it's got the steepest gradient and very few people will keep their sidewalks clean. Today, I was lucky, and managed to stay on my feet the whole descent (fell four times yesterday). When I got to the foot of Prospect, I was in Union Square. I made my last stop at Mid Night, a very interesting and eclectic convenience store. The guy there has absolutely the best collection of magazines I've seen - from foreign policy journals to porn. One day, after having noted that he had a little sex toy and movie shop in the back, I asked him if he carried anything knitting related, since he had everything else. Darnit, turns out he has a whole section on needleworking. Today, no knitting magazines, but a cup of coffee and a chance to cuddle his big gray cat. Out the door and around the corner, through the chop shop area. Today, I opted to go past the laundry processor, as I love that hot, steamy clean smell on frigid days. I also decided to go by the lumberyard, as I like looking in at whatever they're working on in the workshop. If I'm lucky, too, someone will open the front door and a turpentiney-sawdusty-linseed oily odor will waft out. This sustains me for the remaining block or so, when I finally make it to my office.

Folks here think I'm nuts to take this walk in the wintertime, as it can be treacherous, and the cold's not too good on the skin or lungs sometimes. It's actually the event of the day that I look forward to the most, this little jolt before the forced heat and the bureaucratic tango.

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