Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A long walk home.

There's something, I'll admit, that I like about really lousy weather. 

There's something I like about cold and wind and rain and puddles in the street and visibility that makes it impossible to see the peaks of even middling buildings.

There's something I like about battening down my personal hatches and steeling myself against all that the gods can throw at me. 

Maybe it's hubris, that most heinous of all crimes, but I like staring down the gods. I like proving over and again that I am tougher than the toughest.

That said, I realize that I am no Ernest Shackleton. I am no Sir Edmund Hillary. And I'd probably have ordered in for pizza and four-cheese dippin' dots if I were a member of the Donner party.

Last night, I worked late and by the time I left my office-less pile of bricks, the wind was larruping out of the west and off the river at 30 miles per or more.

The rain was beginning to freeze and pelted me like small stones thrown at a sinner. 

I had on my English-made winter coat--a tightly woven woolen affair made for the hardy northerners of the remoter British isles. It was made, my jacket was, for places like the Scapa Flow, or the Faroe Islands, or faraway places like Unst, or Yell, or Funzie.

I imagined that I looked like Trevor Howard in an old Carol Reed movie, long-faced and world-weary with the heavy wisdom of the ages.

I pulled my woolen cap down over my ears and buttoned my topmost button around my neck, so I had less of my face showing to the night than I have had if I were wearing a burkha. I had my hands thrust deep into my pockets and braved the evening.

I thought of some Kipling I had remembered from my childhood, when I took the time to memorize things like Kipling, only this was about hot weather, not cold, but it was the best my feeble mind could do:

Ship me somewhere East of Suez, where the best is like the worst
Where there aren't no Ten Commandments an' a man can raise a thirst
For the temple-bells are callin', an' it's there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin' lazy at the sea
On the road to Mandalay, where the old Flotilla lay
With our sick beneath the awnings when we went to Mandalay
O the road to Mandalay, where the flyin'-fishes play

An' the dawn comes up like thunder outer China 'crost the Bay.

I walked home, four miles, through the night, through the pelting sleet and rain and frozen air.

Like I said, there's something I like about lousy weather. There's something I like about a good nor'easter. Something that tells you what, deep down, you're made of.

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