Boston Snow vs. LA Sun?
My son urges me to move out to sunny California to be closer to family. While I still can care for and support myself in my circuitous way at this time of my life, I prefer to stay in Boston. Why?
This morning in the middle of our first major snowstorm, I added another reason to the list. Unaware that Boston had issued an official snow emergency, I needed to move my car into a side street not part of the parking ban. I spied an empty “legal” parking spot right under my apartment window. I considered rushing out in my pajamas, diving my feet into boots, and throwing a coat over me — no time to lose. I abandoned the PJ idea. I donned yesterday’s clothes; slid the boots on over bare feet. I threw on my thermal down vest and a coat I wear only if the temperature is over 30º F and rushed outside.
A good seven inches of snow had buried my car. The snow was feather-light and beautiful fluff. If my lungs were powerful enough, I could have blown it off the car. I worked fast, turned on the motor, and got enough snow off the car to get the wipers working and have some visibility. No cars, only plows were on the road. Once I cleared enough snow off it, I backed out of the spot and headed the 800 feet to my coveted “legal” spot, which was still available. The cold air, the soft snow, even the bit that fell into my boots were invigorating. I felt joy clearing off the friendly flakes. I knew that the snow would be much harder to remove if I left the car untouched. Once in my space, I continued to clean off the car, leaving a massive frosting at the top. I was not cursing the cold; I was enjoying it. I was not cursing the snow; it was so friendly, light, and obedient to my touch. A Boston snow day at its best, and I was a grateful part of it.
Just a few days ago, I was alone again for a holiday on Christmas day. It was a frigid day, just above freezing. The wind was fierce, and it was misty in the air. After reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits, I knew that I wanted to make my walks daily instead of occasional. So I put my walking shoes on, took an umbrella in case the mist turned into rain, and walked outside. He says that you have to walk if you want to think of yourself as a walker. So I put my shoes on, knowing I’d still be a “walker” even if, according to Clear’s theory, I only walked around the block. My usual path is across the Mass avenue bridge and back, which buys me about 4K steps, which I like to think of as my ideal minimum. Once I stepped onto the bridge, I slid. A transparent sheet of ice covered the entire path. The mist had turned to rain.
Was I going to turn back or keep going? I decided to err on the side of courage over caution and held onto the rail. The temperature crossing the bridge was lower than being on the street. The wind was fierce, and the ice was there for the entire 400 Smoots (the measurement based on the height of an MIT student whose name was Smoot. He was pledging to get into an MIT fraternity that had challenged him to cross the bridge, maybe blindfolded or lying down the whole way). I decided to keep going. I would not slip if I took tiny steps and held onto the railing. The wind raged, the rain spilled onto my face. I was alert and awake and brave and strong and determined to get to the other side. Along the way, some pedestrians crossing the opposite direction walked on the asphalt road, avoiding all the ice. Smart….but I was already halfway across the bridge by that time, so I kept going. Slipping every few steps, I used the railing even though my left hand was soaking wet through my glove, and the sleeve of my coat up to the elbow was wet as well because the entire railing was wet. When I finally made it safely back to my apartment, my body was tingling just as it did this morning as I swept the piles of snow off my car. The same ecstatic joy at the moment and the contrast of the seasons I get to experience here in Boston.
Months into the winter, I doubt I will have the same delight. For today — the 7th day in the New Year and on Christmas Day of 2021 — I rejoice in my good health, the ability to walk outside without a mask, the gentle snowflakes falling outside my window, and the thin frosting of ice on the bridge on Christmas Day.