Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Springtime of Early Winter

I don’t really take the seasons in linear sequence. For me the seasons may come and go within a day. The calendar and the position of the earth have nothing to do with the seasons; it is all in the way a day feels. For example, it doesn’t matter to me that the calendar read “December 28, 2005” on that day it was Mid-March in Pittsburgh. Nothing that anyone could say would convince me otherwise, just as November 25, 2005 turned out to be a day in late December, with its sub-zero wind chill factor. The seasons are all screwed up, but it is none of my doing.

December 28th was clearly a Mid-March day. The temperature was 51 degrees. The remaining patches of ice and snow melted into the ground. The paths across the campus green were slushy dark brown mud. The sky was overcast, pregnant with rain that would not come. The air was crisp and invigorating. It was a day for walking – a day for dreaming.

The hazy gray glow of the late afternoon gave the city a dream-like quality. I could not be less concerned about whatever rush drivers in their cars thought they should be in – I took my time crossing the street and soaking up the atmosphere. This was a not a day for businessmen, this was a day for poets, monks and dreamers. Shame on the man or woman unable to lose themselves in their thoughts on this day.

All of my senses were heightened, not by the rumbling of car and bus engines or the chopping whirl of helicopters overhead, rising from and descending on hospital roofs. My senses were heightened by the crunch of the sandy earth beneath my feet near a construction site, the soft white glow of the overcast sky, and the smell of fresh earth and wet concrete from the melting snow and ice.

The day came as much as a relief from having to walk quickly in order to keep from freezing in the 15 degree windy air just a week earlier as it did from anything. No longer feeling the need to rush, also because this was still the middle of the holiday season and the many indoor and outdoor malls and town centers drained off all the people who are perpetually in a hurry.

No longer feeling the need to rush in order to keep warm, I had time to stop and chat with tourists who asked for directions to the nearest restaurants and wanted to know about the quality of food they offered. No longer feeling the need to rush I dropped in on a musty used bookstore and casually browsed the shelves, thumbing through oversized art books and a dusty 50 volume collection of literature published by Harvard.

No longer feeling the need to rush I took time to savor Tikki Chicken Marsala and Aloo Paratha (heavy with potatoes and green peas and glossed with melted butter) at an Indian restaurant. No longer feeling the need to rush I read the local newspaper and sipped a tall Americano at a nearby coffee shop.

The evil days of rushing about and the weight of anxiety will return soon enough, on their own accord. For now this refreshing and contemplative March day, at the end of December, was here to be appreciated and enjoyed.

No comments: