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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Temperature: Ninety-two--Focus: Zero

It is gloriously, unseasonably summer today. The thermometer mounted beside the back slider displays ninety-two degrees in the shade and I laughed at my teal leather gloves sitting on the desk in the kitchen where I tossed them several days ago. It is New England though; it’s best if they stay there a bit longer.

As I returned from my outplacement meeting today, the Fore River Bridge was up and the backup of traffic gave me enough warning to take a side route to keep moving, but the alternative takes as much time as waiting for the bridge to go down. So I remained in the line of cars, edging up through the traffic to the driveway of an empty firehouse where I put the car in park and rolled the four Jeep windows down all the way. I was not the only one.

When it is ninety in July, people drive vacuum sealed behind rolled up windows, goose-bumped flesh luxuriating in cool blasting air. Ninety may be ninety, but in April it’s another feeling all together. Way down beneath flesh and muscle and sinew, our bones are still grainy and brittle and ice cold from winter and this first blast of warm air massages like hot stones on the back of the neck. In the summer, beach traffic caught at a raised drawbridge clanks and honks and exhales, wheezing with impatience and temper. This morning though, drivers sat, idly tapping fingers on steering wheels, smiling while pantomiming requests to cut the line for a right hand turn, waving their thanks. Not a horn sounded.

With the breeze flicking at my hair, I kicked off my shoes and listened to the couple in the car beside me speak Russian and then turn up music that I couldn’t understand. I mused about the grey fleece pullover that was yesterday's uniform, when a woman, pale legs reaching from her bright green Capri’s and arms that dangled from a bleached white tank top strode past the line of cars, a gallon of water hanging from each hand. Once the bridge made its hesitating descent and we inched forward, the truck behind me squeaked and my brakes squealed in a syncopated rhythm and four baseball capped youths yodeled out the open sunroof of the car ahead. I imagined them playing hooky from school or work on their way to the beach where the water, unlike the air, would be somewhere in the forties.

Just as seventy in February is a gift, a short-lived ninety in April must be treasured, recalled, taken out and rolled around during the next cold spell, or even tomorrow when the weather is predicted to return to spring and the thermometer closer to fifty.

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