winter maneuver

Waking up to sunshine in February disorients, like sleeping through the high part of the day. Yesterday, against that bright sky, I remembered the ritual I distinctly imagined around this time last year:

I was standing with coffee above the river, imagining the city casting aside its winter garb, boots and scarves and hats like the peels and rinds of vegetables, slipping into the surface of the water, a churning soup of tossed-off color.  We were a nest of snakes shedding our skins at the same time, and we’d do so every year. Phones would go unanswered; everyone would know better than to plan meetings or errands that couldn’t be moved, once the sun crept high enough and the sidewalks sloughed off the ice. Like a parade, we’d fall in formation along the riverwalk, down to the lake, mummified in our now-unneeded woolens. Loudmouthed kids with sticky fingers would marshal us to the water, and together we’d tie up a long rope of bootlaces and unraveled yarn from worn-out gloves. With the rope and our fingers, newly exposed from mittens, we’d start lashing together the winter things into a giant soft raft or a reef of scarves and socks and the occasional balaclava. That’s how we’d send away the winter,  letting layers off to float into the distance.

(This is my first experiment with writing about two hundred words a day, so as to meet the previously established thousand-word goal. I have to keep reminding myself that routines and rituals don’t start out fully formed; they come into their own over generations. Patience is a hard habit to form.)


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