6 Unburned Pieces of The Mind
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20051209

Least a Half-Foot – Our First Snow Storm of This Winter

Since Thanksgiving, we’ve only had a few dustings of snow, but today I left work early as the snowstorm that had been promised actually arrived. With the road covered in snow, and little sand, the ride home was a second-third-gear affair. Anything faster than twenty-five, thirty miles an hour was certain to make the rear end of the car fishtail out of control. Four-wheel drive I’m sure is a convenience, but with my front wheel drive Chevy Cavalier, over confidence was one thing I didn’t have to worry about.

The luxury of leaving work early was that I didn’t have to be in a hurry. Knowing I had a twenty-mile best-be-careful drive, I took in the scenery as the swirling curtain of white enveloped the trees and fields in a blanket of heavy snow.

As I meandered down 235 heading toward Lincolnville, I passed by a Christmas tree lot. In the middle of the lot was a warming shack, its outline blurred by the falling snow. There wasn’t any smoke coming out of the stovepipe, but just to the side of the shack, an elderly man wearing an orange hat and a red/black parka, sat in a chair rubbing his hands over a wood fire. I imagined what customers he’d have today would be few.

It took almost an hour to make it home. No sooner than I did, though, I found myself digging out my snow pants and heavy wool socks. Fifteen minutes later and I was trudging a path through the snow. First stop was the post office to pick up my mail. Not finding much in my box except Christmas sales flyers, which I promptly tossed into the recycle bin, I headed to the co-op for a cup of coffee.

The snow was covering Main Street faster than the city could plow. A Ford Taurus slowly made its way up the street, its tires spinning as the car slid from one side to the next, just barely missing a parked car. Behind the Taurus, a Dodge Ram with a plow looked like it was becoming increasingly impatient. At times, the Ram was so close to the rear of the Taurus that I thought for sure it was going to give it a good push up the rest of the hill.

I bought a cup of French roast and sat down at the table by the window, looking out at the falling snow. When I finished my cup, I got up and tossed it in the trash. “Looks like we might get a half foot before it tapers off,” said a grizzled man who looked like he was on break from a construction job.

I smiled at him. “Least a half-foot, I’d say.” I turned and headed out the door. As I walked along High Street, I marveled at how the Christmas lights glimmered against the falling snow. On top of the Colonial Theater, the giant carved wooden elephant wearing a Christmas wreath around its neck stood sentry against the swirling storm.

It felt good to be back in the warmth of my apartment. I sat down on the couch and started to pass the time by reading Bukowski's sifting through the madness for the word, the line, the way : New Poems:

the way to create art is to burn and destroy
ordinary concepts and to substitute them
with new truths that run down from the top of the head
and out from the heart.

Staring out the window, I became lost to the swirling flakes that carried me away deep in frozen thought.

It occurred to me that when winter finally looks like it’s suppose to, I really don’t have a problem with it. I thought back to the elderly man I saw earlier today as he warmed his hands over the wood fire, how comfortable he looked as he sat in his chair while he waited for someone to pull in to buy one of his trees to take home and decorate. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting this winter will be long, cold, and snowy. For once, I think they might be more right than ever.

By S. L. Cunningham