Thursday, 20 December 2012

Sidewalk smarts

I made a quick trip down to the mailbox to mail what I hope are the last of this season's Christmas cards. (Fat hope. Invariably something comes in during the twelve days of Christmas which makes me moan "Oh damn!" in that charitable holiday style I have and hastily fill out another card and envelope.)

Within seconds, I'm slowing down and picking my way over and, where possible, around stretches of black and white ice, marvelling at my fellow pedestrians striding by, some on phones, some absorbed in texting. I only see one of them slip, but it doesn't seem to be an edifying experience.

I manage my errand and the Resident Fan Boy helps me force Yaktrax over the soles of my sneakers for the long trek up the hill to the library. I may not have street smarts, but I have sidewalk smarts and trembling on the brink of my thirteenth winter in this godforsaken city, I know there will wide, solid, slippery streams frozen in mid-flow from the driveways intersecting the pavement. Yaktrax may not save me there (Ice on a slant? Are you mad?); I'll walk around that, thank-you, but it will help me stand a chance -- literally -- on those treacherous stretches in front of condo-buildings where the inhabitants resolutely expect the city to clear and salt for them. I learned this the hard way but then, I got all my sidewalk smarts the hard way.

It's a bit nerve-wracking making my way up a hill that is just short of a kilometre in the icy dark, juggling a bag of library books, a bag of poop, and the jittery Accent Snob who isn't that fond of walks in ideal daylight weather. I spend the uphill trek crankily snapping at the dog as he attempts to convince me to go back by frequent stops to look longingly over his shoulder, and the downhill trek compensating for the inexorable pull of gravity and the slightly more exorable pull of the Accent Snob who recognizes that I've finally come to my senses and turned homeward. I compensate by walking like Groucho Marx, knees bent, slouching gait, the whole effect helped, I'm sure, by the cigar-sized flashlight I'm holding out to make out ice patches in the dim glow of the posh Rockcliffe Park street lights. Also the moist gleam of my philtrum, resulting from my runny nose.

There are beautiful Christmas lights on the way, but it's difficult to appreciate them under these circumstances. A winter storm is on its way and the trees are beginning to moan ominously. I just pray it is actually a winter storm. If it's more bloody freezing rain, I just may be more in favour of the end of the world which is supposedly occurring at about 6 am our time.

See you later. Maybe.

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