23 tagged with #winter

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At night I listen to the howling winds while refreshing the weather forecast for the morning. Some days, I don't want to be spoiled for what the dawn will bring me, but often I feel the need to be prepared.

My new rule is that days which I fail to arrive on time are not allowed to be erased from my calendar; the little numbers written on a corner of my whiteboard must remain, more or less indefinitely, as a haunting reminder of my bad morning habits. Somehow, there is no negative reinforcement strong enough to motivate me to arrive at the time I plan when I have no actual obligations beyond keeping my word to myself.

The snores of the downstairs neighborhood reverberate impressively into my room; once, he knocked on my door at 11:30 because the basement laundry machine I started had woken him up.

The world is a layer of slush ponding rainwater and snowmelt, and I manipulate the flow of traffic around me to minimize the amount of splashback I get from cars that pass inappropriately. Subtle shifts in lane position and velocity, and a well-timed peek over my shoulder keeps the cars in their place, and I am the shepherd dog racing through stampeding sheep.

Today is a good day to be. Today is a good day to look up and see the occasional patch of blue, to get coated from the waist down with salt and sand. Today is good.

18 February 2014 11:56


The smell of sulfur hits my nose as soon as I step outside, and at first I mistake the fog for my eyes clouding up from the sold. There's a filmy haze in the air, and a strange quiet despite the hour of traffic.

Uninterrupted Monday mornings give me a time to catch up on all the tasks I like to perform when no one is looking. I refresh signs and clear walls and shuffle objects around to improve my ability to reach things later. The speakers mounted to the underside of my desk play WYEP, as the weekday morning DJs know exactly what song to play in order to make the most of the weather and the season; what's eerie is when the music matches my mood, and I imagine a collective mindset for all listeners, a shared feeling across the world amongst strangers I might never meet.

We all look up and see the same sky; the same sun lights up our world.

17 February 2014 11:09

Tread Carefully, Again

"Excuse me, did you see me here?" I asked after pounding on the driver's window.

The driver was a man in his 30s, wearing glasses and a big hat, and there were young children in his car. The small sedan had backed out of the driveway at me, where I was waiting for the light to turn to my favor. I heard the sound of gears grinding into place and looked over my shoulder just in time to see the trunk-mounted bike rack, metal prongs sticking out of the little car, rushing towards me. My feet had enough traction in the slush for me to scramble backwards while the car swung around past me.

I only needed to lean forward slightly to reach the window as the he changed gears into forward drive. He looked up at me with an expression of horror that he somehow completely missed seeing a figure in a bright chartreuse jacket and orange ski goggles under broad daylight when it was no longer snowing. All I heard was my own panting breath and his idle engine when he quickly shook his head and slammed on the accelerator to get away from me.

16 February 2014 17:35

Tread Carefully

I saw the salt-encrusted red truck start to turn onto my road before he realized he wasn't going to get the turning radius he expected, and I tensed. In a moment, all I knew was the distance between myself and every escape route possible, but none of them seemed like a plausible option. I was ready to vault onto the hood as a last resort, and he saw me at the same time his wheels suddenly became nearly useless front-mounted rudders.

The sound of tires losing traction have been haunting me this entire winter, and every winter prior. It's the only thing I truly fear when I'm riding with traffic, that a driver will lose control of their car while our vehicles are on an unchangeable trajectory towards each other. I heard those wheels spinning under the heavy load, useless scraping against the ice for an entire heartbeat before becoming drowned out by a frantic honking of the horn. I squeezed down, knowing just how much pressure my brake levers could take without sending the bike sideways underneath of me, embedding my front tire into a snowbank.

I faced the truck, which had so much snow on the hood that I couldn't even feel heat rising from the engine that idled a foot away from my chest. Breath curled out from my balaclava, lit by the truck's headlamps. I couldn't see the driver inside the dark cab, and he probably couldn't see my face behind the light well of my headlamp. I threw a hand up in equal parts helpless despair and "the hell do you want from me" in response to the honk.

My right foot was buried past the ankle in the wall of snow built by passing plows, and it came free with a lurch as I dismounted to push my bike to a clearer path so I could move on with my ride.

10 February 2014 09:14


Heavy snow creeps up the way a good rain never can; I didn't notice it until the dawn broke and I coal make out the contrast between the blue light of morning and the orange glow of sodium vapor lamps. One confused and over-enthusiastic bird was rapidly silenced by the blanket of snow draped over the trees, and I only realized what had happened overnight when I noticed that I could not hear the usual stream of early morning traffic. The packed snow muffles the sound of tires slapping against pavement, and only the occasional crunch of chassis against a bank of ice gave me a sign of cars on my street.

I find the most fascinating questions about humanity lying along the edges of boundaries, examining the very existence of delineations and wondering why lines, sometimes seemingly arbitrary, are drawn in one place and not another. The lines are our way of asserting that something is known, that enough knowledge has been collected in order to justify the existence of that boundary. The lines give a sense of control, a demarcation from which we can proceed; the lines are a challenge, because I never feel as motivated to do something as when someone draws a line in the sand and dares me to cross it.

09 February 2014 19:21

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