I rounded a corner and came upon two little kids--maybe five years old--sitting out in the gutter, digging at the snow/ice there with serious intensity. It brought back my early childhood in Michigan, in sort of a depressing way. When the snow melts and there's only brown grass and stick trees in the landscape, not even the bluest sky in the world can make up for the unbeauty of the world. I had my camera in my pocket, hoping I'd see *something* pretty to make up for how depressing I was finding the world. The way the sky reflected in the puddles? Prettyish, but I didn't think I'd be able to capture the effect--it was more the way the oak leaf at the bottom of the puddle emerged from the glare as I walked forward that interested me. Same with the small patches of unmelted snow--they sparkle, but they sparkle best when you're moving, and little glints of pink and yellow and blue shift and twinkle at you. Nothing out there for the camera, though.
I was coming to grips with the fact that beauty is small and feeble this time of year, and I was also thinking about the way I broke up ice in the gutters when I was five because I was convinced that "poor people" (not realizing that I was the poor people) have to get their water from the sewers, and if the ice stopped the flow of water in gutters, they'd have nothing to shower in.
I reached the corner, decided to turn back and walk down a different road.
The new road leads across the creek, and I could see that the ice in the creek-bed had broken up dramatically. Big ice-chunks glinted like uncut diamonds in the creek-bed, and my hand twitched toward my pocket as I approached--and then my feet slipped.
I scrambled a little and kept upright, and had that tiny part of a second to congratulate myself on my hard-won balance and strength from all the exercise I've been doing--when my feet slipped again. I grabbed for the hand-rail that keeps people from falling into the creek, and again, kept upright. I had a little longer to think, "Thank god for railings." But then my feet slipped again and shot out underneath the railing. Shit. I still had a grip on the top rail, and it took too long to release it and grab for the second rail, so I wrenched my arm. Then I was sitting down, hard and fast. My trademark oof pushed out of my lungs. I thought I heard joints cracking as I landed. I still had a moment to think, "Okay, now I'm sitting, I won't fall any--" before I realized I was still sliding towards the creek, just this time on my ass. The fall down to the creek would be about another four feet, and the ice was already crumbled, and I knew I'd punch right through into whatever water lay under the ice.
I grabbed the second rail and stopped myself.
Legs dangling over the side of the bridgelet, my pants soaking through with snow, I thought, "Okay. I guess I'll look at the ice now." I thought about taking out my camera and getting a picture. It wasn't beautiful, though. It was just brownish ice broken up in the bottom of a creek bed. As beauty goes, it wasn't even small and feeble. Then I realized I didn't feel so great.
I wondered if I'd be able to stand up without falling down again. I examined the snow-covered ice beneath me. I turned over on hands and knees and scrabbled up the incline away from the snow-ice patch, and then got to my feet. I limped home. I kicked off my shoes and took off my coat at the door and went upstairs to undress and crawl into bed. On the way, I managed to step in a pile of cat vomit.
I took off my socks, shivering and cursing. Took off my wet pants. Crawled into bed to wait and see what would hurt first while I warmed up. Other than a little strain yesterday in my wrist and ankle, I'm good. And that's the story. It's not all that good, but it is what happened.
And the possible morals of the story?
- Quit trying to find the beauty in February. February sucks, especially the March-end.
- At least you didn't end up in the creek, but it would have been a better story.
- It's worth not having a good story to avoid getting badly hurt.
- Someone really should salt the bridge over the creek.
- There's a reason you have a gym membership, and that reason is "ice."
- Don't forget to look for the cat vomit.