Like I said in yesterday’s blog, things in Atlanta during the winter are far different than in most places. As I sit here looking out the window there’s about an inch and a half of ice on the street in front of my house, the buses that are usually roaring up and down the block have been silenced, and the Post Office’s motto talking that “neither rain nor snow nor dark of night” mess is a farce because I haven’t seen the Netflix disc I was expecting Monday afternoon. In most areas it takes a few days to a week to get even a slight case of cabin fever. For those of us adults bordering on severe attention deficit disorder (ME) it takes far fewer hours than that. Typically when my urge to do something strikes it strikes hard and won’t relent until I have satisfied my thirst to do something, anything. So tired of my four walls yesterday about 1:15pm I decided I was going to walk around the block, throw a snowball or two, then come on back home. My inner 8 year old got really excited as I dressed in the appropriate layers, put on my hat and gloves, and got my umbrella and exited the front door ready to tramp around in the snow.I was not greeted with the silent footfalls of freshly fallen snow as I descended my front steps, rather, it was a crunchy, gritty feeling as my boots rested and then crashed through what was about a quarter inch of ice on top on the blanket of snow on my walkway. “Fight on”, the inner 8 year old said, “This is gonna be cool!” so using the umbrella as a walking stick I went on down the walkway, down another set of steps to the sidewalk and off I went as my inner eight year old said “Weeeeeeeeeeee!”
When walking in normal Georgia conditions it takes all of 2 minutes to get up the block, perhaps more if I’m texting along the way, but these conditions are far from normal. I’ve gone from casual steps to carefully trying to place my feet into the shoeprints of those that have traversed the block before me in efforts to make the process easier. It’s a task but it wasn’t enough work make my inner eight year old shut up about how cool the snow made everything look. So I kept walking up the block to the top of the street and made a left. Now it’s starting to be work, I literally have to stomp through the ice now but the eight year old in my head has created a song to go with the rhythm of my toil that’s goes a little something like this (note: I’m stomping my foot through the ice on the BOLD parts of the song, this is in 4/4ths time for those of you musically inclined. An upbeat hybrid of “London Bridge Is Falling Down and “Nobody Knows” by Paul Robeson)
“Oh, NO-body Knows, The Ice That I’ve Stomped, The Ice That I’ve Stomped, The Ice That I’ve Stomped…NO-body Knows The Ice That I’ve Stomped, Tramp-ing Thruuuuu The Snow….”
The inner 8 year old is singing that upbeat jolly version but the 30+ year old me is singing it with loads of toil and struggle. But I continued on because I haven’t seen the gym in months and this was proving to be a necessary workout. More people have walked on this particular sidewalk further up the block so I’m using their shoeprints to aid my walk but still each step requires concentration and at this point my legs hurt. My opportunity to rest came at the next intersection with the following couple trying to turn a trash lid into a sled. Not pictured is the bottle of vegetable oil they used to lubricate the lid.
While I’m standing on the corner watching these two the smell of brownies is coming from the house on the corner and the inner 8 year old inside me starts doing back flips. “Brownies!!!” The 30+ year old me tries to make a stand “No! We don’t have brownie mix at the house, we don’t need brownies.” The inner 8 year old retorts, “But the grocery store is less than half a mile away. Pleeeeeease?” Then I started to think, “I really would like some chili today and the store IS just up the way. Why not?” So I pulled my hat down over my ears as my inner kid cheered and I stepped into the intersection, the same intersection covered in a sheet of ice that people were currently sledding on and I….didn’t fall, not yet anyway. But this lady did…
The inner eight year old is singing his tramping through the snow song and the older version of me is starting to feel the effects of snow walking and now understands the perpetual scowl that adorned the faces of the New Yorkers I saw when last I visited the Big Apple in the wintertime. The extra effort it takes to walk is making me regret even considering leaving the house. There are others walking the streets, a couple holding each other up on the sidewalk giggling about something or other. A young man is walking carrying his puppy; the ice apparently a little too much for his paws. Another couple is being dragged through the snow by a large Boxer on the end its leash trying to get after a bird in someone’s yard…apparently a Boxer gets better traction with paws than its owner in Timberlands. Five Guys Burgers and Fries was open, there were two people inside and a sign taped to the door that said they were closing early. The Korean Mani/Pedi joint was open, they had 4-5 clients inside, apparently nice hands and feet for those ladies are worth venturing out in the snow for.
I made it to the grocery store, spent about 30 minutes and $10 on some stuff I didn’t particularly need while the inner 8-year-old cheered. Now I had to walk back home, still less than a mile but seemingly longer than that with all the concentration it takes to stay upright and now I have to do so with a bag a groceries across Atlanta’s frozen landscape. I had $2 in my pocket, I started scanning the parking lot for nice people to ask for a ride as I’m not built for this snow walking mess! I’ve got to get my mind right, I’ve got to gear myself up. While I did so, I watched these folks make great use of a barely used part of the shopping center’s parking deck.
Now I’m ready, I’ve got the groceries hanging on my left arm, umbrella doubling as a walking stick in my right hand, hat pulled down, jacket zipped up, and away I go crunching through the ice and snow. I’m making good time and I’m finding the trip back a little easier even with the added weight of the groceries I didn’t really need. I’m smiling at passers-by and have joined in chorus with the inner 8-year-old with the “Tramping Thru The Snow” song and everything is great until I got back to the iced over intersection. I stood on the corner for a moment and devised a game plan. The intersection was on a hill slanting left so I put the groceries on my right arm and the umbrella/walking stick in my left hand; if I started to slide left down the hill I could plant it in the ice and stop the slide. I took a deep breath and started to go but just as I got my nerve to step off the curb onto the street dressed as an ice rink I see a group of people coming up the street laughing and taking silly pictures; immediately I have to reevaluate this situation. If I step into this street with two bags of groceries on my arm and I fall and slide into the middle of this intersection in front of a group of people armed with camera I’m likely going to be on YouTube when I wake up in the morning. So, armed with a camera of my own I snap a few pictures of the scenery around me and wait for the group to pass. But they don’t, they have chosen the corner across from me as their posing spot. 3-4 minutes have passed, they are still there being silly and snapping pics, laughing as they try to make snow angels but they can’t because they can’t break through the ice on top of the snow. It’s starting to sleet a little at this point and the wind is picking up and I’m getting cold, so I throw caution to the wind and step off the curb.
The first step with my right foot was measured and sure; I made sure that I had good footing before I brought my left foot down onto the ice which I did carefully…then began the shuffle across the street which worked about halfway across then the ice got bad, real bad. As I shuffled I began to slide left, gradually, I tried to plant the umbrella into the ice but that started to slide too, my only means of defense had been thwarted. The only thing I could do was try to shuffle faster; there was a good bit of slush about four feet away near the curb that would have provided necessary footing but I’m starting to slide a little faster than I want to now. The crew on the opposite side of the street see this and they start with that “oooooooOOOOOOOHHHHHH” in anticipation of me spilling into the street. I can feel the digital camera lenses boring into my back as they prepared to capture the incident with dreams of hitting the “Upload Video” button dancing in their heads. The inner 8-year-old is giggling at my failed attempt to stop sliding; the 30+ year old me is thinking about how hard that ice is and if my fall is going to leave a bruise; however with one last bit of determination I willed myself forward and shuffled faster and cried out internally “I WILL NOT BE ON YOUTUBE!” and lunged forward to the slush, gained my footing and safely made it to the other side unscathed, groceries in tact. Light applause and a hoot from those gathered on the opposite corner. I threw my hand up to them acknowledging their cheers and made my way up the block.
Now I can see my house. I’ve never been so happy to see that little yellow house on the corner in my life. I just have to go down the hill to get there. I’m crunching through ice as the inner 8-year-old is singing alone now; the sleet is a little more steady as I’ve got one more cross of the street to get to the first set of steps. Again, a careful step off the curb and then another as I stepped fully into the street and shuffled across the ice to the sidewalk and then my front steps…home, finally, thank God…and still no Netflix disc in my mailbox.
I read someplace that it takes upwards of 300 muscles to keep the human body balanced and upright. Today as I type this all 300 of those muscles hurt but I’ll chase that pain away with a few aspirin and some chili and then have some brownies for dessert. And as for the inner 8-year-old, he’s on punishment until the Spring.
~thanks for reading 🙂