A New Definition for Driving Snow
_ Both of our heads were sunken into our scarves, fending off the minus-fifteen temperatures with slight blustery breezes. Taking a look required a tortoise like maneuver, heads slowly clearing our woolen shells to discover the origins of these—what seemed like, though oddly so—gleefully rising howls. A kid was careening down the local sledding hill at a quarter to nine on Sunday morning, a very understanding mother for an audience and emergency medical needs. As he or she—the bundle of waterproof warm-wear didn’t suggest gender—skidded across the flats at the foot of the hill, Emma sank back into her crocheted shelter, muttering something about lunacy.
It took winter a while to get to Moscow this year, but I’m pretty sure it’s official. Snow has begun to pile up along the edges of pavements, quickly moving from ankle-deep to knee-high to above your average waist-waders. Snow falls and stacks and stays, requiring an ever-present prowl of men with wide-spaded shovels to clear a path. Often I see them working the road that rings our apartment complex, snowflakes pattering against their shoulders as they clean a sidewalk, ten steps back, already getting its second, third, fourth coat of snow again. They plod on, looking forward, knowing all their work will have disappeared by the time they circle back.
As snow covers the world in a wintry white blanket, inspiring moments of bewilderment, Oh! the beauty of nature type musings, it also does much to dampen the season. Beyond the shovelers, there are the floor-cleaning ladies at the entrance of my office (also a shopping mall), who stand mop-in-hand, battling the muddy residue of snow melting off of boot bottoms, sometimes the traffic so thick with footprints that I’m reminded of Looney Tunes episodes, Bugs Bunny confounding a determined Elmer Fudd. The women wipe away the tracks only to find a new set, three sets, laid in the meantime.
Then, there is me, the pedestrian strained against the wind: wincing, squinting, crouching, slumping, wrapping, and fighting for each tiny step I take, praying for balance atop the slick stretches of pathway. Point A to B has never felt so the obstacle course as gliding over the snowcapped ledges of stairways, over the melted and refrozen puddles of snowfall, the packed ice thoroughfares of pedestrians, all of us trying to make it to B without busting our asses. The horror is that we’ll have to get back out there to return to A. Then, do it again tomorrow. Amongst us, there is a real sentiment of screw-the-great-outdoors, give-me-a-cup-of-tea.
Still, once you’ve made it to the office, braved those slippery sidewalks, laid your footprints of horrible brown slush, you can’t help but admire that kid on the sled, so enamored with the possibilities of powdery hillsides that he or she just can’t resist it, and kudos to that mother for bundling up to oversee this next commencement of sledgery. Growing up in Louisiana, I have no reason to feel this way, but there is something about fresh snow that is reminiscent of childhood, as if nature has provide a whole new canvass on which to scribble. Luckily, any dreams I had of being an artist have long since blow away in the blizzard.