A Walk …
It doesn’t feel cold, though of course it is. I am dressed appropriately. The sun sparkles, happy to see me; there are so few people for it to shine upon outside in this cold. It sparkles on the snow, here and there glittering the grey winter landscape.
At first I choose each step with care, not knowing how slippery the sidewalks may be, then I pick up speed and get up to a hearty jaunt. I try for some cardio so I need to walk at a good fast clip. The cars on the street seem slow, my pace apace with them as they slow for the traffic light.
I cross and head up the hill, past friends’ homes with their well-tended gardens now all withered and snow encrusted. Still, the textures are beautiful: sinewy vines twined on fences of wood and wrought iron with dried grey-brown leaves waving here and there, straight smooth stalks and dried blossoms of hydrangea thrust out of snow, red-hued bayberry all a-prickle. The holly leaves are still deep green and shiny, and periwinkle peeks out from pauses in the snow, ready for Spring anytime.
The first human I meet is familiar, as is his fox-terrier/rotweiler doggie. To myself I smile at the abbreviations that pop into my head: Foxrot (FoxtRot?), Ferrier, Fairweil, Ferrot. I smile and say hello as usual and he does the same. He is younger than I am, most likely, but I look young. (This is not the same as looking stunning, unfortunately). My sister thinks I am aging backwards–does that even make sense? We know what she means– but doesn’t it stand to reason that someone removed from stressful and difficult times and having instead: rest and relaxation, healthy food, fresh air and exercise, might look a tich better? Of course. Stress and sleeplessness alone are aging, it seems to me.
In the chill air it is easy to feel invigorated and able to walk forever. This feeling lasts precisely until the frigid air begins to chill nose, cheeks, then fingers and toes. It is then that one realizes: I have to walk all the way back home!
I am wearing layers of clothing as well as a beautiful hand-knit scarf, boots, a hat, and warm gloves, but the temperature is quite low and the breeze adds a windchill. I duck into a coffee shop for a few minutes of warmth.
I have never been a coffee drinker. More’s the pity, now that coffee is said to have curative or preventative powers. I drink tea. It is the token bit of English in me, perhaps, plus tea lends itself to my creativity. I add fresh herbs, lemon, spices such as ginger, cloves, cinnamon of course, tumeric because it is supposed to ward off some effects of aging (though I don’t like the taste much) and even cumin, which I like very much. It is one of my current fads, along with kale (as in sauteed ’til crisp in olive oil and seasoned, or in a stirfry with fresh ginger and a dash of tamari), and also leeks. Leeks are delicious in soups, this being soup weather as well as tea weather. I am good at soups for some reason and I like to have them on hand, they are so soothing.
After my green tea, I embark upon a different course home. The sun that had shone for me earlier is now on hiatus and the sky is winter-grey with thoughts of snow flurries. Down in front of me flutters… is it a stray snow flake? No, it is a small fluffy feather. So maybe it is actually down in front of me (ha, myself and I can be as punny as we wish when walking). The little feather floats from the sky, slowly this way and that in the bluster of the late afternoon. I see no little birdie. He must have been faster than his falling feather. Perhaps he is flying towards warmth somewhere.
Feathers always bring to mind my grandmother. She dressed well at all times and accessorized in mid-20th-century classic chic, at least so she now appears whenever she comes to mind. She wore hats, hence the feathers, and gloves, fitted suits, simple elegant pumps. Ash-blond hair perfectly coiffed. Lipstick always, and perfume. I used to love to stand at her dressing table as she chose her perfume. It wasn’t that she gave me a spritz of those French scents that most intrigued me, it was the collection of tiny but beautiful glass bottles with their elegant labels that caught my eye. She gave me one, once, when it was empty. Isn’t it strange the things that become our keepsakes?
I nearly keep the feather but in my head I hear my mother saying how germy bird feathers can be and it is flu season and I am careful, or too careful as the case may be. What has a bird feather to do with the flu? West Nile Virus? Is that active in the winter? Who knows.
In my mind, the white fluffy feather joins others on my grandma’s white hat. Feathers, fur… would she even wear those now? I think not. She’d wear other fashionable things, like my hat or my boots or my gloves. This is somehow a very satisfying thought: I have three pence of her fashion sense. However, less of that and I might now be slightly warmer. I might instead have chosen to wear my snow boots. Bulky, heavy. Good for trudging in the snow. I have those for when I am not on a city walk. Those make me think of the children’s book Owl Moon, if you know that story. Bundling, out in the woods, listening for owls under the moon. And mittens. I am wearing gloves not mittens. Mittens… doesn’t the word alone make you think of that wet-wool smell? I wear mittens when walking in the wilderness.
As I head back, I pass a young girl walking with her head down. She does not even look up as I pass and say hello. The cold must have frozen her ears, or she may be deep in thought. Young people are never the first to say hello, in my experience, but they are often the most enthusiastic in their replies, their smiles large and sincere. They are not yet jaded and are reassured by friendliness, or so is my theory. Sometimes older people are friendly too, don’t get me wrong. I try not to take the few compulsory and cool replies personally. How sad is that, to be unable to smile, or, worse, to choose not to smile at friendly passersby? Well you can think about this when next you are out walking. If you are in conversation with someone or on your cell phone, I will not disturb you, don’t worry, but otherwise I’ll likely greet you, so be nice!
A few tangents later and home again, home again, riggety jig. What is that from, anyway? Oh it’s jiggety jig. Mother Goose. To Market to Market… so there is your Random Trivia from my uneventful but refreshing winter walk.
Cheers to you! Stay warm and happy, wherever you may be this weekend!
Once upon an autumn evening
I walked to beat the darkness
in breezes tousling,
streets shushed and still,
as dinnertime and bedtime
came and went and loomed–
as the lingering sun
strove to outshine the moon,
playing hide and seek over rooftops
and dodging in the trees,
golden and warm in final moments–
Mother may I