Standing at the bus stop this morning in 19 degrees Fahrenheit, too cold for the Girl to take her hands out of her pockets and read. So we talked ... an unusual thing for the bus stop, this year, this last year. Part of the price of her growing up, I guess.
Where did all the snow go?
Melted already. There was only half an inch to start with.
Why wasn't there more?
I don't know. I don't think the meterologists expected us to get half an inch, and there for a while, watching it snow from the living room window, I thought we might get more. Half an inch, 22 inches, sometimes they just miss it.
22 inches of snow. That would be fun.
And I thought of this ...
I don't remember how long it went on or how many different places we slept.
After a week or so Mom decided it would be safer to split up, so the Shrimp and I went home with the Society Editor. A bubbly, chubby blonde, she lived in a tiny burg just a few miles north of the University. She parked her lemon-pie yellow Mach II Mustang on a gravel pad in front of the matching 1930's cottage. Her parents lived on one side, her brother on the other, all three houses backed up to the brushy end of a small pasture. The barn was barely visible in the dusk, silhouetted against the brightly lit sign from the convenience store on the highway.
I woke up the first morning thinking things were too quiet, the traffic too mute, the birds too silent. Slid out of bed, careful to avoid waking my sister. Looked out the window: snow. Crawling back under the covers, turned the clock radio on low and listened as the announcer droned soporific through the list of closings and cancellations.
Hours later, we got up to find a note on the fridge. Be back later. Make yourselves at home.
Too young to drive, all our friends a forbidden long-distance call away ....
The Shrimp curled up in the den and turned on the TV, a day of game shows and soaps in mind.
I laid in the hall next to the blazing floor grate, pulling trash novels from the adjacent bookshelf one after another. After a couple of hours I donned my sneakers and coat to stand onto the porch, watching the fat white flakes fall from the sky. I walked down the stairs, across the gravel, and along the ditches to the Buzz Buy, bought a Dr. Pepper from the fountain. Took the shortcut back through the pasture, walking along and climbing over the fence into the backyard.
I went inside, into the dark formal living room, left the wet shoes and socks and coat at the door. Started riffling through the LPs. Carole King, Stevie Nicks, Jim Croce, the Eagles, Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, Gordon Lightfoot, Gordon Lightfoot.
Picked one at random. Slid the thin black disc out of its crackling sleeve and onto the turntable, deep in the walnut console. Set the needle. Discovered I did know Gordon Lightfoot after all.
Standing at the window, I watched the snow fall, leaving only shadows of my footprints as it accumulated.