The snow days since I’ve been last seen, have been heavy. Like usual, when I walked into the snow, it seemed soft enough, the kind of white like sweet cake cut into slices by the shovels and plows, pretty enough to eat. You know. The kind of cake-snow that is so fresh and clean before it gets all ravished by automobiles and rubbish and mud and puddles when the melting begins. But that has yet to start. The ice is still sword-length, hard, catching the sun, and we are not getting a lot of sun. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for more white stuff. I can already feel the clouds condense.
The last day I danced with the snow, embracing the storms that followed each other like parades keeping cars at a stand still, keeping people home, and me thinking it’d be an adventure to walk a few miles around town in, the flakes were large, wet petals slapping my cheeks into a blush. All the roads and sidewalks were mine! My happiness kept me warm and daring, undaunted by the slippery parts this way and that, my heels were like roller-skates, and I hopped from bank to bank. I barely felt the soreness in my ankles as I braced myself to keep upright whenever the ice took me. Somehow my balance was there, like I had a second set of arms to hold me, like the times I had a friend to steady me, and I them… Now those were days to celebrate!
And so, as the wind pushed, and I pulled myself each time my bottom nearly slapped the ground, I thought of the thousand times the thousands of best friends this adult child has played with in the snow. The echo of my own giggling was nearly like the sound of them answering my giggle…
The wind grabbed my scarf. My hair whipped away from my eyes. I wasn’t wearing a hat. Wet blasts of snow caught me up with that sad reality as my old bones finally reached their limit. I looked ahead. I had several miles of walking to do before reaching my doctor’s office. The road was not clear. Cars were faring worse than I was. The sidewalk was a tundra with no trees to break the wind. The usual fifteen minute walk it would take me to get to my doctor was taking me much, much longer. I looked behind me.
The wind changed direction and, again, I got another slap in the face. It was no use wrapping my scarf back around my neck properly. Everything was too wet. My boot prints behind me were disappearing. I had enough of walking along the road. Despite the deep snow, I took my favorite short cut through the woods.
My short cut became a funeral march. My favorite apple trees, the ones that grew wild after the original owner abandoned them, now lay in one large heap of kindling. These were the trees I spent a lot of time with in the warm months each year. They were perfectly short trees for a short person like me to rest my back against. Together we soaked in the sun. With them I meditated, read, wrote, sang to them, was generally their “hugger” ever since I discovered them and the juicy little green apples they produced. I loved to sink my face into their blossoms every spring, crowned by their sweet branches like a fairy queen, and looked forward to my apple tree afternoons!
I sank in the snow in front of the pile of their remains. I had no breath for sobbing. I just laid down in the snow. I was aware of the cold as suddenly as my discovery of their death. Aware of their death as suddenly as I was the absence of a departed friend I never got to see or talk to… One. Last. Time.
One thing no one was aware of: I loved these trees.
A house once stood next to the trees, torn down 2005, the little orchard stood through many storms. The vacant land is owned by the city. What will it ever be used for? The apple trees, as far as I knew, were not sick or full of parasites, but they were very old. Could I contact the city and ask to plant trees there? There is hope in the tears behind my eyes.
Soon encumbered with snow, the time grew long. It took me a full hour to get to my doctor. The sidewalk was dangerous place and my boots were of no use. Carefully, down-heartedly, I stepped, silent and frozen, slipping every five seconds, that wind against me at every turn. Even though I was 45 minutes late, I did not miss my appointment because other patients canceled, and it was a good thing I was there for counseling. After talking my heart out to someone I have to pay to hear me out, I finally did fall, slamming my ass down a slope and landing boots first into the front fender of a parked car. My hips and ankles screamed at me. The car? Just fine.
I grumble, spit fire, don’t even bother dusting snow off, and hobble away to a bus stop, but as I do so, I look up to the darkening sky and pray:
Please, dear Gods, tell me the sidewalks are clear up ahead!