They are like puppies – clumsy in their abundance of winter gear, eager to get out the door into the sharp morning. It’s still dark, but the edges of light are coming and it’s enough to see the small icy path ahead. We file in a single track, up and down over the huge frozen mounds left by the plow. They pretend we are climbing mountains and I laugh to myself because they don’t see the grimy soot of exhaust and headlights as cars pass on our city street. The buses start arriving from all directions, as do the children, big blobby mounds running out from houses while shoving mittens onto their hands, trailing backpacks and parents.
There are few lights on in the houses, but the street is dotted with the sickly orange glow from the sodium vapor street lights. I think as I always do how that light is my least favorite color, and that it’s pointless to take any photos when those lights are on.
There isn’t much talking among us, the parents. It’s too cold or too early or too Minnesota.
Our bus arrives and I look in to see yet another new driver. It must be a tough job, driving that early city school bus.
Suddenly the street is quiet again. It’s beginning to lighten and as I make my way back home I see the intricate patterns and delicate crystals in the snow mounds, not formed by glaciers but by the erosion from fumes. There is a gradient of color from almost black to a light taupe. There are amazing textural patterns in the street. The air is so hard and cold, it’s like a presence there beside me. I breathe it in and the coldness feels clean, flushing out my head and body.
How beautiful and stark it all is.
(inspired in part by this winter walk)