I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape.
Something waits beneath it; the whole story doesn’t show.
Well, my friends, here we are again. We are entering into that end of the old year/beginning of the new year holding pattern at the airport of life, waiting to land and disembark into the foggy future. We are ready to let go of the stale air we’ve been breathing all year and take in the fresh sights and sounds of 2014.
I have always liked even-numbered years. I have great hopes for this one. Even so, I admit it’s hard to get excited about the New Year in the middle of the gray Chicago winter. The view outside my window seems to work against that overall “hopeful” feeling I’m meant to employ this time of year.
The first full winter we spent in our Chicago bungalow on the north side of the city, my husband and I decided to stay in on New Year’s Eve. Our house sat at an odd bend on a “cut through” street so though we were snuggled in close to our small, wood burning fireplace in the front room of that bungalow, we were privy to each wild reveller who staggered down the sidewalk and each drunk driver tearing down the street. We turned off the lights in our house once our daughter was in bed and we sat, warmed by the fire, watching the action outside. The snow had been piling up all day and showed no signs of stopping. By the time midnight drew near the snow lay as a thick carpet on the road and the sidewalks. Cars tearing down the road began to slow a little, just a little, sliding along that odd bend and we watched from the safety of our house set back just enough from the road.
When, finally the magic midnight hour had passed, we made ready to get to bed. Just then a car came careening down Manor avenue. We could hear it plowing its way through the thick, compacted snow on the street, cracking under the weight of the car, brakes squealing and failing, tires locking. The mid-sized vehicle hit the snow bank opposite our house, not being stopped by or entering into the bank but, rather, seeming to climb it. It came to rest, for the most part, on top of that 5 foot bank of snow. It was suspended there, the driver and passengers of the vehicle making no move to get out. The driver spent some time trying to back his way off that snow bank but it was no use. The car was taken in by the snow bank, picked up, embraced and adopted. After a short time, the car wobbled a little as doors opened and four men tumbled out into the waiting cold. They were laughing and swearing, teasing the driver who seemed completely flummoxed by the situation. They were most likely drunk and most certainly amused. It surprised my husband and I to see them turn quietly, all at once, and walk away from the car once they began to feel the cold and the falling snow. It was as if a switch was thrown and they were given orders to move from the place.
The night was quiet then, maybe a car or two drove slowly down the street, perhaps a plow or a salt truck, slowing down to see the wrecked car taken hostage by the snow bank. In the morning the car was still there, residing in all the white. It was a banner storm. The tow truck showed up a day later when the roads were clear. We were never really sure of the whole story there. We would invent scenarios in the coming days to amuse ourselves, imagine the conversations that came in the wake of that event.
I don’t know exactly what it is about that story that begs me to write about it today, on the cusp of this New Year. It may be the strangeness of it, the unexpected nature of things, perhaps prophetic to where we’re find ourselves in the coming years as we struggle with seeking out peace and embracing the chaos that’s bound to show up despite our best efforts to stave it off.
It’s life. It’s just like that and we take it as it comes, whether we’re the ones in the car climbing the snow bank or in front of the fire witnessing it. The story stays though. It remains in us, waiting for the telling.
Many happy returns, lovely readers!