Wednesday, January 28, 2015

tunnels in the park

A snow has fallen on New York City, as you are indubitably aware of by now. Unless you have cut yourself off from all possible sources of news, which might not be an unwise plan, honestly.

Although the snowfall is impressive, and not negligible, the snow has not brought with it Armageddon, the Apocalypse, or the Eschaton.
It has simply brought snow. Which, in most parts of the city, just looks like thick, salty brown sludge. It is neither magical nor dire, it simply is an obstacle that must be removed from my sidewalk. As my civic duty dictates, I must remove this snow, in order to leave a path for pedestrians to traverse. 
I set out to do so this morning, and finally my cold little Northern blood took to this foreign city. Here was something that I could understand: clearing snow off your little patch of sidewalk. Just as in the cold Northern suburbs, there is a man who has a snowblower, and his driveway or sidewalk is cleared long before yours is. Just as in the suburbs, you find time to chat with neighbors while you are both doing this necessary task that nature and weather has forced upon you.
There is a common bond among us, as we fight to clear a path for ourselves among the obstructions that nature has set up in front of us.

There is a certain sort of pride in clearing your bit of sidewalk, and salting it carefully, so that the abuelitas walking by, and the young men with their Pomeranians carefully fitted out with wool doggie boots, have a clear patch of pavement to set their feet.
It's that pride that comes from a job of manual labor well-done.
I finally begin to feel a stake in this crazy concrete jungle, as I proudly and resolutely move snow off of what has somehow now become "my" sidewalk, into the gutter or the planters on the side of the house.

After I have finished my task, I take off for a run through the Park, in the snow. And this is something I understand even more.
The Park is filled with quiet: the quiet of snow in a woods on a winter evening.
It is also filled with activity: the activity of children sledding down hills, and fathers taking their daughters ice-skating, and steering them around trees on sleds.

And this is something I can understand: running through snow, as it blankets everything in the world, dampening the dry city with its icy moisture, a quiet damper for the constant noise, and washing over the dust and dirt with a sweet wash of pristine crystal.

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