Yesterday was the first freezing rain of the year. Perhaps because of not having grown up with it, I am always amazed by just how difficult it is to get around in such weather, as well as how stunningly beautiful everything is with a sheen of even a light coat of ice.
BH had already put on the winter tires and shoveled out the garage, so the car was inside and easily managed the roads. The sidewalks were another story altogether.
I managed to get to work by lazing around till BH was ready to take the girls to get their flu shots, and he gave me a drive right to the corner where my bus stops. I nearly did the splits getting out of the car, but grabbed a hold in time, and ventured on towards the verge of grass that parallels the sidewalk for most of the distance between the corner and the bus stop.
In case anyone reading this has not experienced this weather, I should explain that frosty grass provides ample secure footing compared to the truly invisible ice covering the slight dips and grades of the sidewalk. Sliding along a flat surface is one thing, but trying to climb the tiny rise of a where a curb is cut to facilitate wheel chairs (etc. – what is that called?) is nearly impossible. At the very least, you lose at least some forward ground with each step, and at any moment you may come a cropper.
Once I made it to the grass, I stopped to catch my breath. Just then a fit young man landed right flat out on his back while crossing the street. He was going fast enough that he slid a foot or two after landing. Another young man, waiting for the bus, called out and made sure the fellow didn’t need help getting up. Then he turned to me, and, very graciously, offered me his arm to maneuver the last four meters or so to the actual bus stop. I appreciated the offer, I said, but I was worried I’d take him down, too. He retorted that together, we’d be four-by-fouring, and so much more stable – and off we went. It was all very cheerful, and very kind of him to try to make out like he’d have offered to anyone, but I still felt pretty ancient!
I arrived downtown where either there’d been lots of salt laid down, or it was just warm enough to melt the ice. There were only the odd (and still invisible) slippery patches. While I was picking my way somewhat carefully along, but not in full shuffle mode, I noticed a man busking outside the World Exchange Plaza. He was playing, it seemed, some kind of bright red wind instrument. I thought it was some kind of bagpipe, maybe? As I got closer, I realized the red thing was some kind of neoprene cozy for a recorder. I could see it was a soft tube about 10 or 15 cm across, about the size of a large-diameter wine bottle. It must have had a hole on each side to let his hands in, since his jacket cuffs disappeared into it, and presumably a hole in the top for his mouth fit on the recorder and one on the bottom to let out the sound. It seemed a brilliant idea: his fingers, and the instrument, were completely covered. He played beautifully.
If I wouldn’t have had to re-route an extra 10 meters (on treacherous ground!), and fish around for some coin, I’d definitely have contributed for his hard work, and the pleasure the sweet sounds gave me.
I had another couple of things to be pleased about, too. I had on a new-to-me sweater that a good friend had passed on to me, disappointed because it just didn’t work on her. It’s a lovely sweater, not only for its colour, a rich periwinkle blue, but its delicate all-over crocheted lace pattern. I was somewhat dubious about my outfit, feeling rather frumpy with a big wool skirt and a white cotton sweater under the cardigan. However, A pulled out a gorgeous almost-cobalt blue string of beads from my dresser while watching me dress, and insisted they would just make the outfit. I indulged her, or bowed to her better fashion sense, if you will, and figured I might as well give it a try. I was glad I did. Over the course of the day, I got several compliments for the sweater, but most importantly, I loved just looking down at my arms on the keyboard and seeing the cheerful colour and remembering the kindness of my friend who had given it to me.
That same friend also took time to check on me, since I had been at somewhat less than my best the night before. Her inquiries were very timely, because, despite my cheery sweater, and having a couple of good anecdotes to recount from my trip in to work, I really still needed that extra boost. As an even greater bonus, we made plans to attend a local church’s labyrinth walk on Friday evening – so, something to look forward to, too! I am extremely grateful to have her in my life.
The ice had completely disappeared by 11 when I went out to run an errand. In fact, it was just cool and wet-ish enough to make me feel like the little West Coast puddle-jumper I am at heart. I began, for the first time in ages, it seemed, to feel in my element.