Thursday, February 6, 2014


Thursday, February 06, 2014

I walked into Hoboken in the aftermath of the first storm this week, my good-grip shoes too short for the deep puddles of slush I had to slosh through at each corner – not to mention the trip down the viaduct cleared only by the footsteps of previous adventurers like me.
We live our lives taking such trips and for little gain except the experience. Sometimes, we desperately need to break with routine, to go where (as the old Star Trek theme once said) no man (or woman) has gone before.
Even though I broke little new ground in that trek, trying not to plunge too deeply into the crusted surface of white that had encased our world, I was among the few.
Arriving at the Hoboken office with wet feet mattered less than having made the trip and seen the sites I would have missed in a desperate journey by car.
We are all trapped in our own lives, and sometimes, we just need to break out for a bit, to view it all from a different angle, even if it means a bit of personal discomfort.
I took a different route back, wandering through the frozen tundra of Hoboken to the light rail station and the elevator up to the heights for the trip across to my side of the Palisades.
It was equally enlightening, each step a risky one, each footfall plunging into frigid water and unknown slippery surfaces that might twist me up or cast me down, but somehow did not.
Three days later, I thought again about walking, but the slush has turned to ice and the piles of snow resist all footfalls, and so that it would have been like climbing small mountains the whole way, risking life and limb, but without reward, needing too much attention to where each foot fell rather than to the glorious wonders that were to either side or above.
Sometimes, you have to pick the right time and place to take a risk, and wisdom is often knowing which risk is the most profitable.

I drove, and sit in my office where I can see a frozen landscape and a freezing river, and know I am warm inside, and that my feet are dry.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Storms come and go

Monday, February 03, 2014

The snow comes again as I put the plate down on my side porch for our outside cat, Charlie.
These storms come and go as regular as the tides, one more rough winter that we have to endure to get to through to spring. I missed this last year, which was one of the warmest years in record.
I don’t like feeling my fingers ache when the cold works through my gloves; but I cherish the idea that we must go through something to come out the other side, a sense of passage that says we have lived through something, and not sleepwalked through life.
A few weeks ago, I risked driving up the hill after an ice storm only to pull over half way up for fear of sliding back. When I eventually did make it up the hill to do my usual Sunday laundry, the sidewalks were so thick with ice no step was safe. When the man at the coffee shop warned me about falling, I did not listen, and fell.
These last few storms have posed less risk, and yet still become part of the relentless test of will – the way I used to be tested during my life in the cold water flat in Passaic, each hour, each day, each week wading through cold and ice for the inevitable Spring, a rite of passage that allows us to greet spring as a reward.
This year reminds me of those years, and the winter two years ago when I had to make my way half blind from here to Bayonne and back via local light rail, lingering at times on frigid train platforms with the countdown to the next train.
But having two good eyes this year only lets me see the snow better, and does nothing to relieve the cold. We must endure these days in order to collect the benefits of later days – whether it be in this life or the life after.

Storms come and go; somehow the spirit must survive.