I am sorry to say that the Automobile Oil-Change Fairy has neglected to visit our house lately. So after delaying much longer then was wise for two cars, this morning my daughter and I were forced into the tedious task, which entailed some car-jockeying. I followed her while she piloted her sixteen-year-old jeep to the service center in the middle of our town, brought her to school then returned to the station with my own car. The owner nodded and grinned as he assured me they’d take me first. Mind you, this was at 7:15 and his mechanics don’t arrive until 8:00. “Come back around 8:30 and it will be all set” he smiled at me.
Sigh. What’s a stranded woman to do, but to take herself out for breakfast—guilt-free even, because I worked extra hours this week? Before filling my belly however, I had to negotiate 100-yards through the piles and slippery sidewalks remaining from the 12 additional inches of snow we received overnight into Thursday morning.
The storm ended mid-morning yesterday. As soon as it did, life continued, which meant that industrious people went about their business and parking lot and sidewalk snow-removal waited until early today. The slow going was worth it though. With the temperatures in the mid-twenties, the dry snow squeaks when you walk on it. A seagull perched on the chimney of the eighteenth century inn next to the garage barked and screeched as it lifted itself onto the freshening wind; as I turned to look at him, an orange sun cracked through bare-limbed trees.
In the pre-business hours, front-end loaders and sidewalk plows scurried and shifted through the downtown, beeping and rumbling and thumping as they reversed, pulled forward and emptied their loads into idling dump trucks. The weather has been cold, so the deposit from this, as well two previous storms weighed down the exposed branches of the Bradford pear trees lining the sidewalk; icicles marched like cables along the edges of the dark-windowed shops.
Perhaps I’ve hibernated inside for too long this winter, but as I slid and picked my way through the snow-filled path, something compelled me to stop. Blocking out the sound of the equipment, I looked far up the icy street, to where a row of antique houses wore hoods of white, towering snow banks humped over every intersection and an undulating ocean of untouched snow layered the town common.
Eventually, the cold slap of wind in my face provided incentive to move on. Kicking the slop off my boots at the door of a tin-ceilinged restaurant, I listened to the grumbles of other patrons. “We’re on pace to break a record for snow this winter,” and “It took me four hours to shovel out yesterday.”
It’s New England. It is our nature to moan and complain about the weather. But shrugging off my coat at a table next to a hot air vent, I was warmed by the pictures still ranging in my mind; a clean winter scene back-lit by a rising sun—and the knowledge that the image would soon be accompanied by bacon, eggs-over-easy, homemade jam and sourdough toast.