In the morning, expecting an oncoming snowstorm, I switched on The Weather Channel. Jim Cantore stood in the middle of a city street in Old Town Philadelphia. Some hundred miles South of here, he confirmed my expectations.
– “Yes, a storm was rapidly approaching.”
– “Yes, we could expect up to a foot of snow.”
– “Yes, I am standing in the middle of a city street, dodging traffic, to deliver this expected news.” (He didn’t actually say that.)
My first inclination was to drink a glass of seltzer, so I did just that, retrieving the seltzer bottle I got last Christmas, filling it with water, then injecting a cartridge of carbonation into the bottle. It’s not a usual reaction to the news of an oncoming blizzard; I was just thirsty.
Meteorologist Jim Cantore continued.
– “The Eagles game was canceled.”
– “All end of Christmas weekend flights were canceled.”
– “Don’t drive.”
None of his news directly impacted me, except that I would soon become one of many enduring a blizzard in the Jersey City area. And for the time being, the snow had not yet begun to fall. So I asked myself if there was anything I actually needed to make the approaching storm easier on myself. And I decided on two things: a snow shovel, and since I was about to venture out, a baguette.
I dressed warm, grabbed my bike and pedaled down Newark Ave., with a strong wind at my back. It was the morning after Christmas, and life in downtown had not yet come alive, sans a few city maintenance workers sitting in warm snow plows on the side of the street, preparing for the long day and night ahead.
Inside Tender Shoot Farms, where I went to buy bread, customers spoke of the approaching storm.
– “I hear they’re canceling football.”
– “It’s nothing compared to the Crippler of ’96.”
I bought bread, a Bosc pear, some Watercress and a sponge. Outside, I unlocked my bike and walked the 50-feet down to the hardware store, baguette in hand.
– “Ay papi, shovels selling fast today.”
– “My damn wife needs two bags of salt.”
I bought a ten-dollar shovel, big farewell to the cashier, and started pedaling back home, riding one-handed into the wind, with my free hand holding the shovel and baguette. By now, the snow had begun to fall, and the street had become more alive as people scrambled in all directions for snowstorm necessities, much like myself.
Withing a few blocks, I had dismounted my bike because of the wind, and was walking; past the music store, past the pho restaurant, past the one of three tattoo shops within a mile radius of downtown. When I rounded Second St., the men outside the Latin Lounge (yes, a bar was open at 10:45 a.m. the day after Christmas) were grumbling about the storm.
– “This wind sucks.”
– “Start saving your parking space now!”
I continued on, climbing my apartment stairs into a warm apartment, where I ate fresh bread and drank seltzer as I watched more of Jim Cantore and The Weather Channel.
– “This just in, the Eagles/Vikings game has been canceled.”