The dark, early hours of the December morning felt almost magical to the man as he walked away from the downtown district on his way home after work. He tugged on the front of the hood of his parka in order to help shield his eye glasses from the large snowflakes blowing out of the sky.
The man liked how sounds became focused yet muffled because the coat’s hood covered most of his head. Each footstep created a soft, squeaky crunch as the man made his way along the snow-covered sidewalk. He stepped carefully in order to avoid getting snow inside of his shoes. He congratulated himself for buying a pair that featured soft, deep treads.
At an intersection with a side street, a gust of snow-filled north wind forced several flakes inside the parka hood, some of them stuck to the eyeglass lenses. The young man quickly brushed the flakes aside before they could melt. This was no time for cloudy vision.
A few snowflakes turned to liquid on the man’s forehead. They made him feel just how nippy the stormy air really was. He removed his right hand from its mitten (yes he wore mittens, not gloves) to wipe the moisture from his brow. He then quickly slipped the hand back into the mitten. At that very moment, the man became aware of the thoughts flowing through his mind.
He fantasized about wrapping both hands around a cup of decaf coffee. (It had to be decaffienated in order to allow him to become drowsy, in preparation for sleep.) The wind blew another blast of briskness into the hood, but, this time, no snowflakes.
His mind returned to the vision of the hot coffee cup. The man easily imagined the aroma of the coffee and the hot steam against his cheeks as he visualized bringing the mug to his lips for a sip. But the sting of his cheeks was not steam; it was the storm’s winds that were causing numbness instead.
The man smiled at the contradiction about the similarity of stinging cold and stinging heat. This brought to mind the love-hate emotions the man had regarding blizzards. He loved the drama and excitement surrounding severe winter storms. If he should be careless while walking in such weather, the man could trip, fall, and become unable to move any further. The prospect of death, so close to home, was at once, thrilling yet horrifying.
The man decided to pay closer attention to his footsteps. Soon enough, the mind wandered back to the hot coffee mug. He pondered his preferences and aversions. The man wished he had brought his micro-cassette recorder along so he could dictate his thoughts. His personal reflections about the storm should be written into his diary for posterity.
The familiar pedestrian crossing sign with its flashing yellow light came into view through the nearly horizontal snowfall. The man knew that alertness was important at that place. He once was told that two pedestrians had been killed by a truck at that crossing. The tragedy happened on a pleasant, sunny spring afternoon.
The man halted at the curb and fully concentrated on the intersection. He could only hear the wind howling through the overhead power lines. All he could see was driving snow and obscured street lights. The man stepped off the curb and onto the street. The sparse traffic had already created slick trails of tire tracks. He maneuvered through the tracks and the soft ridges to the opposite side. Hurrah, there was still no snow inside his shoes.
Just ahead was the street that passes through the man’s neighborhood. He felt gladness that home was nearby. Yet there was a twinge of sadness because his scary journey was nearly finished. He arrived at the next intersection and turned right. This was his street.
New hazards were ahead of the man. There had been no traffic. Snow covered the street and one drift, as high as the man’s knees, stretched from curb to curb. He high-stepped and plodded through the blockage. Instantly, his feet stung with the snow packing into the insoles of his shoes. The man laughed at this because he caught a glimpse of his little house nearby.
Right then and there, the man decided to break into a run. He leaped high while trudging through another drift. Then, there was another one in the front yard of his house. Finally, the man stood at the door of the house. He removed his right mitten then fished out the keys from his jeans’ pocket. At last, the man pulled the storm door and pushed the main door open and swiftly entered the house. He pulled the storm door against the wind, then latched it closed. Finally he pushed the main door closed and locked it.
Right away, the man removed the other mitten and tossed the pair onto the floor. He stomped his feet to shake snow from his legs and shoes. His glasses had steamed over and were covered with melted snow, so the man removed the glasses and placed them on the shelf near the door.
He then fumbled for the drawstring of the parka hood, pulled it open then pushed the hood back from his head. The man felt the nip of the melting crust of snow near the coat’s zipper tab as he glided the fastener open. Off came the parka. The man studied the thick coating of snow that covered the garment. He draped the coat on a hook to allow it to drip-dry.
At last, the man slipped out of his shoes and stood on the dry floor near the front window. The man parted the curtain to observe the storm from the safety of his warm haven. He smiled with the memory of his recent adventure.
It was time to brew the decaf.